New Castle News

August 22, 2013

Council asked to fund two downtown developments

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The city of New Castle has received proposals to develop two downtown properties.

Both proposals are seeking a portion of a state grant to assist them in their ventures.

Nino Riccio, managing member of Riverfront Saloon LLC, said in a letter to the city that the company is proposing to buy the former post office building on Kennedy Square and convert the second floor into a banquet facility.

Riverfront Saloon is requesting $90,000 from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant to purchase the building. In the letter, Riccio said the building needs extensive repairs. A new roof is estimated to cost $75,000 and renovations to the second floor are estimated at $250,000, he said.

Revnovation costs to the exterior and first floor with the intention of leasing additional office spaces have yet to be determined, he said.

Attorney Susan Papa plans to buy a building at 41 N. Mercer Street, renovate it and rent it to two or three businesses. She is requesting $50,000 from the same grant for the purchase.

The funds would come from revisions being made to the Redevelopment Assitance Capital Grant budget. Tammi Gibson, community development coordinator, said $250,000 is being freed up as a result of Keystone Compliance not being able to use the money for its expansion project. The city originally received a $5 million grant for downtown improvements

Council needs to adopt a resolution and the revisions listing how the funds will be allocated must be approved by the state.

At their work session Tuesday, some members of city council said they wanted more information about the projects, adding they believe the city’s incoming economic development director should be allowed to review the proposals.

Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo said Matthew D. Staniszewski, who was hired as director last month, is expected to begin Sept. 16.

Both Councilmen Thomas Smith and William Panella questioned why Riccio and Papa couldn’t appear before council to present their proposals. The mayor said yesterday he will ask the two to appear at tonight’s council meeting.

Council members said they don’t believe a few more weeks in delaying adoption of the revisions should be a problem.

Council president MaryAnne Gavrile said she disagreed with the delay.

In his letter, Riccio is also requesting the city to apply to the state for a loan under the Anchor Building program to assist in the purchase and renovation. The city has used the program in the past to aid downtown development.

In her letter to the city Papa said the property she plans to purchase would be called “The Incubator.” The goal is to provide low cost rent to businesses that otherwise would not be able to afford to establish or maintain a storefront, she said.

The budget revisions also change the location for a downtown parking lot. Gibson said the city has been unable to gain control of a site previously occupied by the Black Whale and Pat’s Cameras, which were damaged by a fire last year.