Spencer City Council Authorizes Staff To Apply For Grant To Study Second Floors Of Buildings In The City's Historic Downtown District

Tue 7-20-2021

(Spencer)-- The Spencer City Council Monday evening authorized city staff to proceed with a grant application that would partially fund a study of second floor spaces on buildings in the city's downtown area. Planning Director Alek Schulz says it would encompass several factors...Schulz03 

"Space, square footage that's available, what condition are they in, what potential reuses could they be, looking at accessibility as a sticking point, what condition they are in, what kind of work is going to have to be done in there. Right now with construction projects the way they are, getting supplies and materials is kind of difficult pricewise and materialwise, but utilizing square footage that we already have might be a really good way to one, generate some space that the community could use; and two, to really provide a vibrant project for downtown."

Mayor Kevin Robinson says the idea for such a study first surfaced a number of years ago...Robinson03 

"About 17 years ago I was the President of the Mainstreet, Spencer Mainstreet. We had talked about this then. Spencer faces a challenge a lot of other communities don't with their second stories because of how they were heated. They were heated with the steam heat tunnels that were generated from SMU and so when that power switched, it created a lot of hurdles for building owners to finish off their upstairs floors. So we have a lot of available space but we've never really identified exactly how much or how many more potential people could be living downtown. And so this is an exciting project that has been talked about for a long time between the chamber and building owners and Mainstreet and look forward to if we decide to move forward. The data coming out of that study I think will be very, very valuable for downtown."

The grant, if awarded, would cover 60 percent of the cost of the study, with the city picking up the remaining 40 percent either in cash or through in-kind services.

Schulz told the council having a project on the drawing board to re-furbish the second floors of buildings in Spencer's Historic Downtown District would fulfill a prerequisite in bringing the State Historic Preservation Organization's annual summit to Spencer in 2023. The event is expected to attract 250 to 350 people.