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Bistro plan approved for Merc Center build-out
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The bistro-style bar and restaurant planned for the Gays Mills Mercantile Center took a large step toward becoming a reality, when the village board approved a tenant  build-out contract worth $340,000 at their meeting Monday night.

The funding for the build-out will come in the form of a forgivable seven-year loan supplied from a Community Development Block Grant. There was some discussion among board members and recovery coordinator Julia Henley about how the forgivable loan would work.

Village president Craig Anderson questioned the disposition of certain items in the build-out that he saw as building fixtures rather than equipment. Anderson pointed out that as written at the end of seven years, the owners would own everything including equipment and fixtures.

The way the loan works every year the bistro stays in business a seventh of the loan is forgiven. The Marketplace got a similar forgivable loan for a 10-year duration, when New Horizons and Mickelson’s Market combined to open the new store.

In approving the tenant space build-out for the bistro, the board instructed Henley to create lists of what would be considered fixtures and stay with the building and what would be considered equipment and therefore the property of the tenant to be sold to a future tenant or elsewhere after the seven years expired.

Henley told the board she would make such lists and include them in the build-out contract. One thing that will be included in the build-out contract is fencing to enclose the large noisy heating and air conditioning unit located directly outside the bistro where the bar-restaurant hopes to seat outdoor customers. The tenant build-out will be done by Weiser Brothers, the general contractor for the Mercantile Center project.

At one point in the discussion, Henley informed the board that it was important to get the bistro’s build-out contract approved so work could begin and equipment purchased to enable the owners to begin operation by August to catch important tourism opportunities available in the fall.

A developer’s agreement including the bistro and a proposed 16-room inn on the lot adjoining the Gays Mills Mercantile Center was not approved, when the board decided it was not necessary for the bistro. The build-out contract and a tenant lease would be sufficient for the bistro. The inn would require a developer’s agreement it was agreed, but there were no immediate plans to begin construction of the inn.

The total cost of the bistro and inn project was listed as $1.9 million.

Henley told the board that with the contract signed the rough in of plumbing and utilities in the space would get underway by June 14.

Later in the meeting, the board approved a developer’s agreement for construction of a new funeral home between Vosseteig, Bertram and the village.

Henley told the board that a similar seven-year forgivable loan was similar to the loan in the bistro’s build-out contract. Again CDBG money would be used. The amount to construct the building was higher than originally anticipated in the memo of understanding. The forgivable loan would contribute $265,000, which the recovery coordinator  pointed out was less than 50 percent of the cost to build the funeral home.

Board trustee Harry Heisz moved to approve the developer’s agreement for the funeral home and Earl Winsor seconded the motion. It was approved by the board.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved hiring Cheryl Klekamp as a part-time office assistant to work in the village office

• heard a plan commission update that explained Jerry Brockway’s request to change zoning on property just north of North Mills from residential to commercial and then seek approval for a campsite at the location as a conditional use under the commercial zoning

• approved payment of $12,000 to Niesen and Son as part of an interest negotiation for late payments made to the landscape contractor because federal funding was late in arriving

• agreed to increase the cost of single family housing being built at Site A for low and moderate income resident by $5,000 to continue to build comparable houses in light of price increases

 • heard a report from CouleeCap housing specialist Michele Engh on negotiations with three local landlords on acquisition and demolition of rental properties they own, and plans to replace them with duplexes

• approved paying for DNR-sanctioned structure demolition from the village’s general fund, while Henley seeks the funding from the agency to repay the village for the demolition

• donated $750 to the summer rec program

• heard a hopeful update on reducing the light problems to neighbors being caused by lights on the recently completed Gays Mills EMS Building

 • decided to demolish or remove a garage located at 103 Main Street along with the house located on the property

• approved continuing a rental agreement with Roger Chrapla to use the old village office in the community building as a recording  studio until a better offer or new plan for the building is completed

• agreed to purchase chipped wood from Digger Don and spread it as mulch around trees in the village’s business park