"We have a lot of older buildings and a big part of the work that's being done is tuckpointing. We've identified a contractor that does quality work, very affordable price and that's going to help maintain the structural integrity of a lot of these older buildings."
Onello said there are several qualifications that businesses must meet if they want to work with the city to be improve the image of their business."It has to be a facade related. It has to be on the downtown square and it has to stay within our color scheme," said Onello. "If a business owner meets all those qualifications, the city ,through these funds, handles 80 percent of the project total cost and the business owner only has to pay 20 percent."The project is being partially funded by a $500,000 donation from the late Martha Bogard. Her first cousin, who is also the mayor of Milan, said their family was surprised when they learned about her tremendous gift."None of us knew that she was going to make this kind of gift," said N. William Phillips. "She felt very strong about Milan. She grew up here until she was nine years old, came back several times, and owned property around here. I guess she had a love for Milan that made her want to make this gift."Phillips came to tears as he said he wished she were here today to see how much the downtown area is changing.Murals will also be added to the sides of two buildings and some of the historic advertisements will be restored. In all, there are 47 separate projects taking place. The construction began in April and city officials hope that it will be completed by the fall of 2012."The city is in fact taking care of our business," said Onello. "We've got an attractive, newly renovated and enhanced downtown. We have several vacant storefronts that would lend themselves to some type of niche stores. We're just trying to let people know that Milan is serious about cleaning up the community."
To cap off the downtown improvements, the city plans to demolish a dilapidated building that sits on the corner of East 3rd and South Main streets. The back wall of the building gave way several years ago. Onello said the building has been condemned and has to be torn down. The city plans to turn it into an amphitheater, where there can be live performances that will likely draw more people to the square.