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Facelift on North Iowa Street

Council considers concept for remodel across from City Hall
At a Feb. 7 meeting, council members provided input for a proposal to renovate 112 N. Iowa St.

SOLON– “There’s a lot going on on Main Street right now,” City Administrator Cami Rasmussen said, introducing a concept plan to remodel 112 N. Iowa St., the third different downtown development on the agenda for city council members at a Feb. 7 meeting.
Al Wells, representing UpTown Main, LLC, proposed rehabilitating the building, a two-story structure directly east of City Hall, and reopening a ground level commercial space.
Wells had been planning to take the project to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration, but after visiting with Rasmussen, decided to float the concept to council members for early input.
“I’ve kind of had my eye on this building for a while,” Wells said. “It’s kind of an eyesore right now.”
He told council members he had a letter of intent from a potential tenant, a bicycle shop and triathlon training facility, for the first-level commercial space, which features two garage doors.
Three existing residential units, one on the first floor, two on the second, would be updated, he said, and exterior windows would be replaced. An industrial look will be maintained for the exterior, he said, although Juliet balconies would be added to the second-story apartments.
The existing exterior stairway will be removed. The upstairs apartments will both use an entrance on Main Street tucked in between Eastwood’s and the corner office building which houses Solon Chiropractic, he said.
The site plan included a small island bump-out in front of the garage doors, he said, for access and an outdoor workspace.
Under questioning from council members, Wells said existing tenants would have the option to continue renting after remodeling. One upper-level unit is nearly gutted, he said. “So it will be all-new finish.”
“Your intent is to purchase this building?” asked council member Steve Duncan.
“Yes,” Wells responded.
Council member Lynn Morris asked for further information about the island, wondering if the change would have any impact.
“Well, currently, there’s no parking in front of the two overhead doors,” Wells noted. “I was just trying to maintain that and have a spot where people who bike in have easy access.”
Wells said he assumed the city would eventually curb and gutter the street.
Mayor Steve Stange said the city would perhaps look at a partnership with the developer to improve parking, as it did with HPR Investments and the 121 on Main project.
The commercial portion of the building is vacant, Stange noted, and changing the use might prompt the need for additional parking.
Wells said he had expected to take advantage of existing public parking.
“Yeah, that’s a discussion the council’s going to have to have,” Stange noted.
Council member Steve Duncan asked Wells if he thought about the long term use of the property.
“That whole area’s going to change over time, because this is going to be a ped mall,” Duncan said.
“Possibly,” chimed in Rasmussen.
“That’d be even better,” Wells said.
Stange was enthusiastic regarding the planned use.
“The bike business would be awesome, with the trails coming in,” Stange said.
Stange asked for concerns from the council members, and hearing none, advised Wells to proceed to Planning and Zoning.