WAPAKONETA — The Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership celebrated the first year of its Facade Improvement Project on Wednesday, announcing $40,000 was invested in building repairs and maintenance in the city’s downtown in 2013.
“The focus of the Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership is really keeping the downtown viable and economically stable, as well as maintaining the historic architecture,” said project chair Sue Siesel.
Because of the age of many downtown buildings, there was a pressing need to ensure the facades of these structures did not fall into disrepair.
“There are 63 properties in downtown Wapakoneta that are on the historic registry,” Siesel said.
After researching facade improvement projects in other communities, Siesel’s committee was able to approach Wapakoneta’s city council in 2012 with a proposal to help fund the restoration of these buildings. Knowing the value of maintaining downtown viability, the council committed to provide $10,000 toward these projects every year for three years. An additional $10,000 was raised by the committee, paving the way for six structures to receive improvements, with the property owners paying for half of the restoration and the other half provided through the committee.
For the property owners to qualify for these funds, they had to outline what improvements were needed, as well as committing to maintain the structure’s historic appearance.
“We wanted to make sure that we have stabilized and secured that historic architecture first,” Siesel said. “Several of the projects that were done this year had a lot of work that wasn’t necessarily visible when walking down the street. There was a lot of roof work, gutter work and stabilization of structure. This is vital to maintaining these buildings downtown.”
One building that qualified for improvements was Zofkie’s Bridal on East Auglaize Street. For owner Jeanne Zofkie, the project was as much personal as professional.
“My great-grandfather built that building in the 1800s,” she said. “This was back in the time when they would take the material right down off the wall and make the suit right there.”
Replacing the marble on the front of the building, as well as securing the parapet and making repairs to the chimneys, foundation and gutters, totaled $10,000. For Zofkie, having the assistance from the Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership was essential to seeing the improvements completed.
“If this group had not come together for this, we would have all still been standing around, wondering how we would be able to do all of this,” she said.
The committee will soon accept proposals for other building improvements for next year. With another two years of funds committed from the city council, Siesel is hopeful that Wapakoneta’s downtown will continue to see improvements.
“Just think, even if we were to maintain what we’ve been able to do this year, which is investing $40,000 in our downtown, we could be looking at $120,000 being invested here by the end,” she said.