Verona council members voted down a plan to change the outside of the former World of Variety building ahead of a planned Goodwill store taking over the site.
The alders who voted in opposition to the precise improvement plan – a process required only because of proposed exterior changes – cited concerns over traffic and public safety as an explanation for their votes.
Several alders said they had received considerable public comment in opposition to the store, which would be located at 118 S. Main St. They said constituents were concerned about issues such as whether Verona could support two thrift stores in the area. A St. Vincent’s De Paul Thrift store is located at 513 W. Verona Ave.
City administrator Adam Sayre pointed out the council was not voting was not on whether a Goodwill store will go into the site. The owner of the building still may lease the building for retail use with or without the changes to the facade.
Proposed facade changes included a new roof, lighting, donor entry door and roll-up door for loading and unloading.
“If they weren’t making changes to the outside of the building, it wouldn’t have gone to the Plan Commission, it wouldn’t have gone to the council,” said Sayre.
Ald. Sarah Gaskell (Dist. 2) voted in favor of the plan, clarified with Sayre after the vote, “So we have basically lost the opportunity to make Goodwill look better than it already looks because Goodwill could move in there tomorrow?”
Sayre answered in the affirmative.
Another concern raised during the 45-minute debate included a nonprofit entity using a valuable downtown spot, though it was noted the organization would be leasing.
Sayre addressed other questions that had been raised about the potential of redeveloping that spot, saying other developers had been unable to make it work economically. A plan to redevelop both that building and the former Ace Hardware store adjacent to it was withdrawn more than two years ago, and the Ace was since replaced by a Dorn True Value hardware store.