LIMA — Is a historic look worth stopping investment into downtown?
When it comes to metal siding at 201 E. North St, Lima City Councilors Carla Thompson and Derry Glenn didn’t think so. During a Friday meeting of Thompson’s economic development committee, the two recommended that the initial decision by the city’s Downtown Design Review Board be overturned in favor of the building’s owner Mike Frueh.
Frueh had initially approached the design review board back in October with the hopes of getting approval to update his storage building on North Street with some stonework and tan metal siding, but the board denied his request primarily citing the lack of historic materials.
According to the board’s design guidelines: “Materials that give a false historic appearance should never be used in the storefront. A mansard roof with wood shingles, rough textured wood siding, fake brick or stone, gravel aggregate and dryvit materials are not acceptable.”
Frueh appealed the decision, which is why the matter moved in front of council.
“There are dozens of downtown buildings that have storefronts. Some of them have steel siding as well. I want to make the building look better for the client and that’s what we’re ultimately after,” Frueh said.
During the meeting, Frueh argued that many of the buildings near his are in worse shape, steel siding is already used downtown and that leaning on historical accuracy as a reason for denial is unfair when other downtown buildings under construction aren’t being held to the same standard.
“They aren’t historical. Why are you holding my feet to the historical fire? I don’t really see the need for it,“ Frueh said.
Ultimately, councilors largely agreed with Frueh.
“We need to start being friendly a little bit more. I don’t know if we got plans for those areas, but he’s first. We should appreciate him trying to beatify that area,” Glenn said. “We should be jumping up and down right now, saying, ‘Thank you sir for investing in that part of the city.’”
The committee made a recommendation to reverse the design review board’s decision and allow Frueh to his update his building. The issue will now go before the entire council for a vote.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.