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September 2014

21

State holding up Stapleton's rebuild plan

Building to be reconstructed after July 1 fire

City of Oconomowoc - Veteran business owner Maureen Stapleton did not get her Christmas wish.

The downtown realtor had hoped to receive the necessary state approvals required to get the roof on her Main Street building that has been undergoing repairs since a fire last July caused significant damage.

Stapleton said City of Oconomowoc officials have been "great" during rebuilding efforts that will return her building to the commercial landscape after the fire nearly destroyed it last summer.

A July 1 fire broke out in the rear of the building at 112 N. Main St. and claimed the life of a second-floor tenant; another tenant escaped through the window to safety.

Since that time, Stapleton has been working to restore the building.

She wanted to have the roof started before the snow began to fall, but things have been delayed at the state level.

"There is a difference of opinion in how to categorize the building," Stapleton explained.

"It's complicated; but one of the categories would require a variance," she said.

"It's just a bureaucratic situation. Like everything else, it never goes fast enough," she said of the process.

Plans for the building were green lighted at the local level by the city's boards and Common Council and include some changes from the original structure.

Stapleton is adding a third story to the building and will have apartments on both the second and third floors. The exterior brick on the first floor will be cleaned, and from the second floor up, the brick will be restored and reused.

Any new brick added to the exterior of the building will match existing brick to keep it visually consistent. In addition, plans call for the windows for the residential apartments to have arches and the balconies with black railings.

The building will be just shy of 34-feet-tall and will include a new covered parking area in the rear of the building.

Stapleton said they are using some architectural details from other nearby buildings and incorporating them in this building in an effort to make that part of Main Street look similar to how it looked years ago. Although the city's architectural control board proposed changes such as adding a bottom layer on the first floor, Stapleton pointed out the front windows provide the only natural light source for the first floor.

The board also expressed a concern regarding the style of lighting fixtures shown on the drawing and asked that she reconsider them, however the board unanimously approved the project the building plans as presented.

"The city has been very good to work with. People are really looking forward to it taking shape," she said of the building.

"Once they see it, they will be able to envision what can happen in downtown Oconomowoc and how exciting these changes can be for the whole city. It really helps to make it a destination place," Stapleton said.

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