The city will buy a key building on Main Street — the first one on the left when motorists cross the High Main Bridge to the city’s west side — for $150,000, following a unanimous decision last week by Hamilton City Council.
City Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson said the building at 101 and 103 Main St. — at the intersection of Main and B streets — is “a very highly visible property going into that corridor, and we want to make sure it’s the right business that will provide the right kind of exposure to that corridor.”
“It’s a part of the redevelopment on the Main Street side of the river,” Gunderson said. “We’ve had quite a bit of success, I think, in the central core district on High Street. Jumping over to Main Street, that seemed like a pretty critical building right at the corner there. The opportunity arose, and the city decided to move forward with it.”
Unlike other properties on High and Main streets that are owned by the CORE Fund, a non-profit revitalization organization that is leading the business corridor’s rebirth, this building will be owned by the city, although city government will work with the CORE Fund to “at least do some of the cosmetic stuff on the outside of the building initially,” Gunderson said.
“It’s kind of like giving up a child,” said Gary Kraft, whose family trust owns the building, and who grew up in Hamilton, with his family owning Clark’s Sporting Goods for much of its 102-year existence. “But it’s time it gets passed on and repurposed. We sold the sporting-goods business almost six years ago now.”
“We’re just tickled to death that it’s going to have a new life and a future, and not just get torn down, like a lot of others,” said Kraft, who added his mother, Jean Kraft, told the family she wants the building to be a key part of Hamilton’s plans for turning Main Street into an entertainment area.
“We fully anticipate that as this moves forward, that it will be sold to an end-user,” Gunderson said. “I think what we’ll probably do is at least do some of the cosmetic stuff on the outside of the building initially,” said Gunderson.
Vanessa Cannon, owner of True West Coffee, which has two locations nearby, including one two blocks away at 313 Main St., applauded the purchase.
“I love that the city is taking initiative, and buying some of these buildings,” Cannon said. “We’ve been inside that one, and it has so much water damage. The roof or something is not right, so it’s going to take a lot of money, and a lot of effort to make it work for a business, so the fact the city is taking over I think is really great.”
“They have the right vision for what Main Street could be, and we’re 100 percent behind them, and we really appreciate everything they’re doing,” Cannon said. “Even with the murals that they’re putting on the buildings around us, those are just artistic touches that are allowing our city to stand out.”
Kraft said two years ago a city crew was working on nearby sewers hit a cavity that collapsed the building’s basement, “and we’ve been, the best part of a year and a half, repairing the downstairs, and bringing the basement walls back up to code and reconstructed, and stabilizing the building.”
Since then, “we’ve shown it to a number of people with the intentions of improving it,” Kraft said. “It just got delayed, mostly of bringing it all back up to code, and the settlement of who was right and who was wrong, and all that type of thing.”
Under an agreement with the city, Kraft said he cannot discuss terms of the pending settlement over the foundation collapse, which is intertwined with the property’s sale.