By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
The Fulton Retail Development Group is seeking money to complete major improvements to the downtown with the hope of bringing in a fine dining establishment.
“We are now entering into a new era in our efforts to revitalize Fulton’s downtown,” Chairman Charles Dykstra said. “We are completing arrangements to purchase the Treasures and Treats’ two adjoining buildings for $90,000 with the goal of enticing a fine restaurant to the downtown area.”
The group plans to offer a rent-to-own option that would allow the renter to purchase the property at a pre-determined price and take possession as soon as 25 percent of the price — instead of the typical bank-required down payment — has been paid in rent. The effect of this incentive will be to offer a restaurateur the ability to purchase a building with an interest-free down payment and no money down. The Board of Directors is already making contacts with potential occupants, according to Dykstra.
More than 50 residents have pooled their money together to support the group, which currently has $68,964 on hand.
The Fulton Retail Development Group also owns the theater building, which is debt-free. The building listed for $145,000. If it were sold for the depreciated value of $128,242 and closed up shop after nine years, the shareholders would receive $634 for their purchase of $500 shares. If the building is sold for the $143,000, all shareholders would get $682 per share.
“We do not want to disband, and we do not want to sell the theater building for less than its value in a tight real estate market, since the rents we collect improve our balance sheet asset position by approximately $10,000 each year,” Dykstra said. “We would like to raise an additional $100,000 in capital so that we can pay cash for the old pharmacy buildings and make some necessary improvements.”
Letters have been sent out to current and potential shareholders soliciting donations to fund these improvements.
The Fulton Retail Development Group was established more than nine years ago and has helped complete multiple projects in the retail district. The group purchased a double building, eliminated one of two downtown first-floor apartments, and was instrumental in bringing in the Golden Wok Chinese restaurant.
Other projects include working with local businesses to improve the look of downtown. Calico Creations removed the plywood façade covering its second and third floors to reveal a much improved appearance. The Strating building, which has stood empty for more than 25 years, was completely renovated, complete with stylish rear entrance.
Two of the shareholders took it upon themselves to purchase an old empty wooden building and a parking lot, getting ahead of an entrepreneur who hoped to erect storage sheds in this area. These properties were then sold to Manny’s, making possible the expansion of its facilities, including the new banquet facility and parking space.
With the group of dedicated individuals working to gain and retain businesses, there are likely to be continued improvements in the future.
“Our goal is to revitalize the downtown,” Dykstra said. “We have a really nice thing going here and we would like to keep it that way.”