Business qualifies for loan program
A downtown business owner today will receive a low-interest loan from the state.
Matt Bichelmeyer, who in April opened Bichelmeyer's Steakhouse in the location of his former grocery store, applied for a loan through the Downtown Revitalization Revolving Fund.
The goal of the loan system is to encourage downtown business owners to keep the facades of their buildings in good condition while striving to retain the building's original look.
Bichelmeyer said his low-interest loan will total about $25,000.
About half of the funds, he said, will pay for work already done, which includes a new front door and awnings. The second phase of work, Bichelmeyer said, will include replacing windows above the awning and repainting the side of the building where it has previously been painted. He also plans to freshen up the paint on the original Zoellners' sign. Along with this work, Bichelmeyer said, some basic brick repairs will be made.
Bill Grant, chairman of the loan committee for this program, said this type of project is what the grant committee had in mind. He noted $135,000 has been set aside for loans that enhance the look of downtown.
"This was part of one portion of the comprehensive development grant that came from the Department of Commerce and Housing," said Grant, general counsel at First State Bank and Trust.
The beauty of the loan program, Grant said, is that once the loans are repaid, the funds will be put in control of the city, to be lent again.
And the interest rates are hard to beat, as the program was set up so that the rate depends on the term of the loan.
"For instance, if they choose to repay the loan within two years or less, there is no interest," he said. "We decided to set this up to provide incentive for quick repayment of the loan money."
A three- to five-year loan would be 2 percent; a six- to seven-year loan, 3 percent; and an eight- to 20-year loan, 4 percent.
Bichelmeyer said he plans to repay the loan quickly.
"We plan to pay it back as fast as possible so we can use more of the money," Bichelmeyer said. "Anyone in town should take advantage of the loan, because it's practically zero-interest."
Grant encourages interested business owners to apply as soon as possible, because monies not lent by July will revert to the state.
"Once that date comes, whatever money that could be drawn down from the state is lost," Grant said.