It looks like Petersburg’s Romiad Building will be torn down after all. A local Business has decided not to go forward with a 200 thousand dollar loan from Petersburg’s Economic Development Fund. Pete and Theresa Litsheim had asked for the loan so they could move part of the city-owned Romiad building to their Main Street lot. They planned to fix it up and relocate their business, Diamante Gift Shoppe, there.
The Juneau Economic Development Council, which runs a special loan program, was executing the contract on behalf of Petersburg.
Diamante’s owner, Theresa Litsheim, says they tried to work with the JEDC but there was an issue with the family business’s corporate documents.
“Certainly we are disappointed about not being able to go through with it, but we found that we weren’t able to get our documents together in time with the bylaws and the articles of incorporation and there were some discrepancies in that they were actually done all in 1987. So, they wanted them to be updated and we just didn’t feel there was enough time and the pressure was starting to get stronger and stronger….So, we decided we better not go through with it because of the timing issue,” Litsheim says.
Under the loan terms approved by the Petersburg City Council, the building had to be gone from its current lot by the end of this month. That’s to make way for the new library which is slated to begin construction on that site in May. Earlier this year, Petersburg had originally hired contractors to demolish the building. The Litsheims subsequently approached the Petersburg Economic Development Council with the loan request to move the structure instead.
The PEDC recommended the short-term financing and won short-notice approval from the City Council, which is in charge of the Economic Fund money. The PEDC itself does not have experience in making such loans, which is why it asked for help from the Juneau organization.
PEDC President Casey Flint agrees the problem came down to an issue of paperwork and timing.
“You know we were initially all for the project. It seemed like a good idea for Petersburg, economically development speaking. It would have been good to put another building on Main street and help another local business do that, but when it came time to write a loan we had to kind of have a process that would protect the public’s interests because its basically Petersburg’s money and we needed to go through that. We hadn’t done that before. So, we went through the Juneau Economic Development Council. They have a regular loan process and in the short time frame we just could get all the paperwork lined up in time and that’s kind of where we stalled out,” Flint says.
Rock and Road construction is still under contract to remove the building. According to City Public Works Director Carl Hagerman, the business plans to mobilize to the site next week and tear down the structure after salvaging various pieces.
Meanwhile, Diamante’s owner Theresa Litsheim says they would still like to build on their Main Street lot sometime in the future.