The city of Newberry has submitted a grant application that would help pay for the renovation of the city’s Historic Electric Generating Plant and is planning a request for proposal to solicit business ideas for the space.
City Manager Mike New told the City Commission at its regular meeting Monday that the city had submitted a grant application to the Florida Department of State for a $695,000 improvement to the former power plant at the corner NW 1st Avenue and NW 260th Street.
Located across 260th Street from Lois Forte Park, the former power plant still contains the city’s original diesel-powered generator, which began providing power to Newberry residents in 1910, and a water tank that used to hold about a day’s worth of water but now would “last all of about 5 minutes,” New said.
Currently, the historic building is “a glorified storage facility,” New said, but the city has made progress clearing the building out and recently spent about $35,000 reroofing it.
If the city is awarded the grant, it would need to pay for half of the project – approximately $350,000 – with the grant program paying the other half. The renovation would include replacing and repairing doors, windows and masonry and adding restrooms to the building. Water, sewer and electrical upgrades also are part of the proposed project.
Once renovated the Historic Electric Generating Plant could be used as a museum or a public meeting space. While Monarch Architects was working on drawings of what a potential renovated power plant could look like as a public museum-type space, Newberry was approached by a group interested in locating a microbrewery on the site.
Since then, two other groups have approached the city about opening a brewery or a tap room in the space, so the city also will issue a request for proposal (RFP) in late summer to gather proposals from the business community, New said.
While the city could decide to sell the property to a business, the more likely private business scenario would be for the city to sign a long-term lease with a business owner but would maintain municipal ownership of the property.
As part of the RFP, businesses will need to provide their proposed business plan and lay out their planned building upgrades.