Hamilton project including craft beer bar, outdoor area moving forward

Hamilton and HUB on Main LLC this week finalized the $1 sale of properties at 501, 509 and 515 Main St. in a key step toward creating “Hamilton’s Urban Backyard” in the building and empty land there.

The company promises to invest $580,000 in those properties.

City officials and nearby businesses have hope for the positive impact on Main Street that the proposed craf tbeer bar that will be able to seat about 65 inside. It also will have a covered porch that can be enclosed during winter months. The backyard area, a space of about 7,500 square feet, may have seating for 150 to 200.

“The deal is closed, so we’re moving forward,” said Dave Ernst of Hamilton, who is a principal of the company along with his wife, Emily, and Jeff and Gina Bucalo of Liberty Twp..

The bar area will open up, with doors and lots of window spaces, to the “backyard” part of the property, which will have fire pits with seating around them and a stage area for live music.

The feel will be “come and hang out at our backyard,” Ernst said. “Your backyard, you’ve got food, a fire pit, you’ve got the ability to play games, whether it’s cornhole and bocce ball. Just hang out with friends and family, your teammates, and just hang out and have a good time.”

The backyard will have artificial turf — because a lawn could be ruined by lots of foot traffic — and natural landscaping, with modular seating and picnic tables to “make it ideal for community gathering, whether it’s sports teams coming in to Spooky Nook, families, special events, those kinds of things,” Ernst said.

Plans call for a long-term lease with a food truck that would provide food to patrons through the year; with two other spots for trucks or trailers during warm months; plus other availability for three other food vendors at peak times.

The company has a year to open the HUB and two years to create a two-bedroom apartment upstairs from the bar. There are penalties for failure to meet those deadlines.

Restoring the building

“We are restoring the 165-year-old building at the corner of F and Main (streets),” Ernst said, with the goal being to restore it to its original architecture. “So we’ll be pulling off the vinyl siding and trying to restore the clapboard siding that’s there.”

He tentatively hopes it the bar can open in September. The venue now is speaking with owners of food trucks and food trailers.

The company’s architects are working on construction drawings, and building permits soon will be sought.

“We’ve been able to do some non-structural demo(lition), and continue to do that in preparation for what we know has to be done structurally to the building,” Ernst said.

“We’ll try to celebrate, in the interior, the history of the building, the various businesses that have been there since the onset,” including a saloon, a grocery, bakery and shoe repair. Artifacts are being collected.

“It’s going full-circle to its original roots as the community gathering space for Rossville, as that area was known, prior to being annexed by Hamilton,” Ernst said.

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