PHILIP KITTELL JR.
Village looks for ways
to utilize empty buildings
by CHRIS GRAY
Village trustees are looking for a few good ideas on how to utilize empty buildings in Romeo.
Observer Staff Writer
The Village Board of Trustees has put together a subcommittee to find ways of using the former WBRW Channel 6 studio on Morton Street and the fire hall on Rawles Street.
The cable studio has sat vacant for three years ever since WBRW moved to Washington Township after the township established its new location on Wicker Street.
The Bruce-Romeo Fire Department moved from the fire hall to its new hall on East Gates Street, leaving the Rawles Street building empty since the beginning of 2013. The department finished repairs to the building in May.
"Now and again we get a nibble, but again without being able to have directions to tell people when they're calling (and asking) `what are you going to do with it,' I don't have an answer to give them," said Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin.
Both buildings were leased for $1 a year to their respective users, but Village President Mike Lee indicated on Nov. 19 that the village is hoping to find different uses that might bring in business or revenue.
"We also need to not give it for a buck anymore," Lee said.
The village has considered making one of the buildings a new headquarters for the Romeo Police Department, but decided in March to keep the department at its current location behind the village offices.
Trustees tossed around ideas like a daycare, yoga studio, aerobics or party space rental for cable studio uses. Trustee Bob Hart said Parks and Recreation could use it on a short-term basis with a yearly lease agreement, and wanted to see some type of activity within the building.
"If we did nothing else than even having it as a space for us to hold meetings that would be better than leaving it the way it is," he said.
Lee said Parks and Recreation was interested in the cable studio, but shied away from it when Lee suggested a monthly rental fee of $1,000. The studio is seated next to the Community Center where Parks and Recreation is located.
"They didn't know exactly what they wanted to do with it," he said.
Lee said if the studio was rented out for events like parties or showers the village would have to figure out who would be in charge of managing it and cleaning it.
Lee said earlier this month he and the Department of Public Works winterized the fire hall. He said it takes about $1,800 a month just to heat the building, but the only utility on at this time is the power.
He said he didn't have an estimated value for the fire hall, saying it is difficult to evaluate the structure. Ideas like microbreweries were considered as possible uses for the fire hall.
McLaughlin said any potential leasees would need to be made aware of the zoning and permitted uses for the buildings. The cable studio is single-family residental, while the fire hall is in a commercial zone.
Lee, Hart and Trustee Christine Malzahn agreed to work on finding uses or offers on the buildings.