“After numerous meetings with city officials, they told us about this program that they were initiating,” said Pohlman, who will own the 28,000-square-foot facility three years in March.
That program helps pay up to 25 percent of costs for upgrading buildings, particularly those on primary business corridors, with such things as hoods that are required for modern restaurant kitchen stoves and improvements necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Hamilton City Council put $450,000 into the program late last year, and the bowling alley/entertainment facility was one of the first two businesses to receive approval.
The costs of the suppression system and alarm system will be about $150,000, he said, of which the city will pay 25 percent. He declined to reveal the total renovation cost, but said the $150,000 is “a small fraction” of those expenses. He said it shouldn’t take too long to regain a return on his investment. The alley has no league nights, so all lanes are open to people seven days a week.
Lauren Nelson, a city economic development project manager, said Hamilton’s non-profit Community Improvement Corporation has approved assistance to two projects — Pohlman’s, and Sarah Dankhoff’s soon-to-open store at 127 N. 2nd St., that will be called Wildfire Hygge Home. She is converting a former law-office building there to a shop and is spending about $20,000 to help with ADA access issues and fire codes, so can be about $5,000.
Dankhoff already has another store location, Wildfire Hygge Goods, original location, at 226 High St., and that store will remain open. The new store will sell larger items, such as furniture and accent lighting, than are available at the High Street shop.
City staff also is reviewing four other applications, and have spoken with at least two other businesses interested in the program, Nelson said.
“We have seen a need with our older building stock in town, and there’s a lot of opportunity for great commercial renovations, but they’re pretty costly,” Nelson said. “And so, this program is really intended to help with some of those larger-ticket items that we know are barriers for people jumping in to take on these projects.”
Decisions on which businesses receive money will be weighed using several criteria, including whether they create jobs, increase tourism, create new or expanded amenities for city residents, and increase the tax base.
“I’m not happy we had to make the investment, but I’m pleased we were at least get some assistance from the city to offset the costs and make it a little bit manageable,” Pohlman said. “But it’s still a large expense to have to incur.”
For more information about the program, people can contact Nelson at [email protected] or 513-785-7278.