CLINTON — A building without a front is hard to miss in downtown Clinton. The interior of John Ketelsen’s building has been exposed for weeks.

Ketelsen spent Tuesday cutting a beam, putting up studs and boarding up the front of his commercial building on Fifth Avenue South. Ketelsen’s not sure what the building will become.

“We’re thinking about a venue, but we don’t know,” Ketelsen said.

Ketelsen has owned the building for about 10 years, he said. It has been Maurice’s, a gym and an antique store. Most recently Ketelsen rented it to a play zone for children.

Up n Trending, a play zone for children, closed in May due to the pandemic. Ketelsen encouraged the business to hang on, thinking the COVID restrictions would soon end.

“I even lowered their rent ... just so they wouldn’t leave,” Ketelsen said.

This summer, a banner for a music festival pulled the front away from a corner of the building, and Ketelsen had to make some repairs.

“He decided to take it a lot further,” Downtown Clinton Alliance Director Karen Rowell said Thursday. “I’ve got to give him credit for that.”

A banner for DCA’s musical event stretched from Ketelson’s building to Zirkelbach Home Appliances, Rowell said, and damaged part of Ketelsen’s building.

“It’s a shame, but there’s nothing we can do,” Rowell said. The insurance company denied the claim.

But the DCA board approved a facade grant to help pay for windows, Rowell said. “I haven’t seen the final quote from him. We will only pay 60%.

“It’s an old building, and he’s run into all kinds of challenges,” said Rowell. “But I’ve got to give John credit. He kept at it.

“And the fact that he has committed to it should send a message to other building owners,” Rowell said. DCA encourages building owners to improve their downtown properties, but many don’t, she said.

Ketelsen put a new roof on the building last year, Rowell said, “So I’m excited to see it completed.”

According to the plan Ketelsen presented to DCA, the building facade will be rock at the bottom with a very dark, espresso wood around the windows, Rowell said. He’s considering adding rollout awnings.

“The building is going to look phenomenal,” Rowell said. “I think he has a great vision.”

Ketelsen estimated that he’ll spend $100,000 on the project.