City might loan $20,000 for restaurant on square

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lewisburg's City Council next week is to decide whether to loan $20,000 to a pair of Shelbyville businessmen who are renovating what used to be a furniture store east of the Dixie Theater into a restaurant and music venue.

The Community Development Board voted on Tuesday to recommend the loan for development of Fifties and Fiddles in what most recently was Republican headquarters and The Beehive on Church Street, Mayor Barbara Woods said.

The money is from a $100,000 account set aside by the city to help redevelop buildings facing the public square and one block of the eight avenues extending from the square.

Ron and Don Stacey, proprietors of the 50s and Fiddle Ice Cream Parlor on East Depot Street in Shelbyville, told the Development Board they want to model their new space after the nostalgic music venue in Shelbyville.

"They gave a sheet with a lot of improvements" outlined, the mayor said. The $20,000 low interest loan won't pay for it all, but there's enough to fund much of the plans for the outside of the building.

"As they remodel, they'll bring bills to City Hall and will be paid up to $20,000 if the Council approves it on Tuesday night," Woods said.

The front of the building is planned to be similar to the Shelbyville shop, and the rear section of the building on Lewisburg's public square will have a western decor to blend with fiddle music, she said.

"They've really opened it up a lot and it looks good," Woods said.

Terms of the low interest loan will be a topic for discussion Tuesday when the Council meets at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 131 East Church St.

However, a day after the Board unanimously recommended the loan, City Manager Eddie Fuller provided numbers and background on the origins of the fund.

More than $600,000 was loaned through the city by the federal government to the CKNA plant here. The money was originally called an Urban Development Action Grant, or UDAG.

The Japanese auto parts factory repaid the loan to the city, which held the money in an account that continues to use the UDAG name even though, technically, it's no longer federal money. The purpose of the Urban Development Action Grant was to provide money for local governments to loan again and spend on development projects.

The total left in the city from that original UDAG appropriation is now $203,985, Fuller said in consultation with City Treasurer Connie Edde.

Nearly half is to be loaned in $20,000 amounts to help redevelop the downtown area. The balance is controlled by the Industrial Development Board that has loaned money to the first business in the Lewisburg Business Park. That company is repaying the loan. Two companies in the older Industrial Park borrowed money and repaid those loans.

Some of the UDAG money was spent by the city to pay for construction of a bridge over a creek for traffic into and out of the business park just off Mooresville Highway, Fuller said. The city provided some of its UDAG money to the Water and Wastewater department for the extension of those utilities to the business park.