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City of Milton receives $88,800 state grant to support transformation of downtown building

January 4, 2022
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WEDC investment to help fund renovation in distressed area

MILTON, WI. JAN. 4, 2022 – A century-old historic building in downtown Milton will be brought back to life as a classic car showroom and parts dealership with the help of an $88,800 state grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The Community Development Investment Grant will support the $177,600 renovation of the vacant, two-story building at 645 College St., in an area that has lacked public investment and where many buildings have been vacant or underused for decades.

“Communities such as Milton need private and public funding to the spur additional investment that ensures thriving downtowns,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “WEDC is committed to partnering with communities and businesses to stimulate the kind of private investment that builds thriving communities, economic success and growth.”

The rock-face concrete block building, originally an agricultural implement business, was placed on the National Register and State Register of Historic Places in 2015. But in the last few decades, it fell into disrepair and officials say the project is the most significant investment along College Street in several years.

Bob Rippberger, owner of 401k Properties, bought the building in 2020 and plans to fully renovate it to house the retail part of his vehicle restoration company called TLC Restorations LLC. The project will involve roof and window replacement, floor repairs, door replacements and exterior repairs.

When it is completed next spring, TLC will sell classic cars and parts in the new store.

Rippberger is no stranger to renovation projects. He has purchased and upgraded five blighted or underused properties in the city’s eastern Goodrich Square downtown area.

In the past, he received help from the city in façade and TIF loans. But with this project, those funding sources would cover only 10% of renovation costs.

“With the help of the CDI grant, the project became workable,” Rippberger said. “The buildings across from us have upgraded their facades. The change in this downtown has been remarkable. The impact goes beyond what we are doing.”

The project is expected to spur added interest, development and foot traffic in the area which, while historic, has lacked significant investment. Officials are hopeful Rippberger’s project will help turn the tide.

“Bob Rippberger is the perfect business owner to utilize this grant because of his proven commitment to upgrading the area surrounding Goodrich Square,” said state Rep. Don Vruwink. “I’m hopeful other business owners will follow this example and utilize WEDC grants in the future.”

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

“Community Development Investment grants are a great tool to help communities preserve historical buildings and bring our aging business districts back to life,” state Sen. Janis Ringhand said. “The redevelopment of downtown Milton has been remarkable and this grant will help continue the positive development of the Goodrich Square area.”

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