Plans for a new Goodwill store in the long vacant World of Variety building will go to the Common Council next week despite getting negative feedback from commissioners about the company’s image.
The Plan Commission on Monday, Nov. 4, recommended approval of a precise implementation plan, the third and final stage of the planning process. The PIP governs visual and aesthetic issues and details such as stormwater, utilities and lighting, and the council is set to review the plan Monday, Nov. 11.
The Goodwill plans contain several improvements to the existing building at 118 S. Main St., including new colors, a new roof, a new glass donor entry door and a roll-up door off Park Lane for loading and unloading.
However, several commissioners said they had never received more public comments about an issue. They raised concerns about how traffic and sidewalks would be affected, whether the community could support another thrift store in addition to the St. Vincent de Paul store on West Verona Avenue and how the store, as a nonprofit, would affect the city’s tax base.
Dan Sisel of Berengaria Development, which is working with Goodwill on the plans, said his company’s market research had determined the local market could support a second thrift store, the Goodwill would be taxed like any other retail store, and that sidewalks and traffic would only be affected for an hour a week by loading trucks.
Other commissioners said they simply disliked the idea of putting a Goodwill store in the heart of Verona’s downtown.
Commissioner Scott Manley said the store was not what he had envisioned in the area and he wanted the area to attract “more of a destination or an entertainment type business.”
However, city administrator Adam Sayre said that given how expensive improvements to the building would be, there were few other businesses that could occupy the deteriorating space.
Sayre said if the commission did not vote to recommend the PIP he would challenge them with the question “What are you going to put in this building?”
Council representative Ald. Sarah Gaskell (Dist. 2) said she was voting to recommend the plan but was doing so “under protest” because she realized the public had concerns about the store and there was a perception that a small business should go into the building.
Gaskell said,“There’s somewhat of a public relations issue,” for Goodwill to deal with.