Tecumseh continues to review RFPs for community center
By DEB WUETHRICHThe city of Tecumseh continues its review of three responses to a request for proposals, first described to Tecumseh City Council members in March, for possible reuse of the Tecumseh Community Center. Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch confirmed that all three proposals are still under consideration internally and may soon be taken before a committee for a recommendation.In June, the council members appointed Mayor Richard Johnson as its representative, largely because of his experience with renovating the former city fire station into Evans Street Station restaurant. The rest of the committee is composed of Welch, economic development director Paula Holtz, parks and recreation director Shelley Lim, building services department director Brad Raymond, planning commission chairman Robert Fox, and historic preservation commission member Cheri Hinkelman.Welch said the city has not disclosed many details about the three applicants, but confirmed that the businesses would have beer or winemaking components. “The primary business of the applicants is beer and wine production, but there would be some alignment with the food industry,” said Welch. “All three proposals look great, and it would be great to have any one of them in the city. It’s really a matter of selecting one.”He said the city is not compelled to have to select any of the three, nor are the applicants obligated to make a commitment to the city at this point.“If all three are still willing to move forward and meet the criteria we have set, the committee will then likely make a recommendation,” Welch said.As far as timelines, none have been specifically set, however, Welch said he believes the committee would meet within the next two to three months.“At least by fall we will have fleshed this out enough to talk about which applicants may be going forward,” he said. “This is a mutual process — we’re selecting each other. The long term goal is to have a venue here that could be a great asset for the community.” Welch said there are a number of things that would still have to be worked out, and it could take any project 6-12 months to get off the ground.“Not only does the business have to be ready, but we would need to accommodate ProMedica with the Fitness Connection, and also our senior lunch program,” Welch said. “We’re already in discussion with them, looking at alternative locations. All that has to be worked out.” He added that commitments also have been made for groups to rent the facilities for various events, and that, too, would need to be worked out, along with relocation of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.“We’re trying to be very sensitive on these issues,” he said.Criteria for evaluating proposals included looking at developers’ experience to carry forth a project successfully; the overall scope of the project and full utilization of the building; and whether the project is compatible and consistent with the city, its downtown and community, along with factors such as historic preservation aspects.The building site was originally home to the Hayden-Ford Mill, built in 1837. In 1935, Henry Ford reconstructed the present building after it was lost to a fire. The building was donated to the city by Ray Herrick in 1961. The facility has also served as a manufacturing site, including making military equipment during World War II. In 1961, the city unveiled the new Community Center, which was renovated at a cost of $100,000. The water wheel is original and was constructed by Henry Ford. Tecumseh resident and former city official Don Perky rebuilt the wheel in the 1990s.