Portage cleaning up former downtown antiques shop |

Portage cleaning up former downtown antiques shop

Portage cleaning up former downtown antiques shop
Jonathan Richie, Portage Daily Register, April 22, 2021

After several years the city of Portage has ownership of the building in disrepair downtown at 114 W. Cook St.

The former antiques shop and furniture strip shop had minor repairs done over the last month and the city hopes to get a developer to turn it into a mixed use facility, potentially with retail shopping or a restaurant on the first floor and apartments on the second floor.

114/116 W. Cook St. is one parcel that Columbia County foreclosed on due to the former owner owing several years of back taxes. Online records show former owner Martin Schmidt owes more than $59,000 in taxes on property.

“The building was basically abandoned,” said Steve Sobiek.

Sobiek is the Portage Director of Business Development & Planning and said standard procedure for tax foreclosure with Columbia County is following the foreclosure on a property the county transfers the property to the municipality the property is in, then the city is designated to rehabilitate the building for future use.

“The city had been working with Columbia County for years to get this property transferred,” Sobiek said. “Since it was abandoned, the building is in rough shape. It’s a blighted property. There’s water damage and two holes in the roof.”

Former downtown Portage antiques building frustrates city, county announces foreclosure after years in limbo

Sobiek added the city is currently seeking estimates to fix the roof.

Columbia County Corporation Counsel Joseph Ruf did not respond to calls requesting comment for this story.

Now that the city is the owner of the building, which was built in the late 1800s and about 20,000 square feet, it will be transferred to the Community Development Authority.

“The CDA is making plans to rehabilitate the building for mixed use purposes,” Sobiek said.

On Tuesday night the CDA met to discuss how other cities, including Green Bay, have put together a request for proposal for potential developers to take over blighted properties.

Once the city secured the property, the public works department sent a crew to the site to do a few repairs. Sobiek said this included replacing window panes on the second floor with plexiglass and secured wooden frames. They secured two rear doors, added a lock and repaired a hole in the rear of the building.

Sobiek said the work cost the city around $1,000.

“They installed plywood on the front façade that was open to the elements before and now the building is secure, that was important when we got the property,” Sobiek said.

Fred Galley, of Galley Studios at 222 W. Cook St., sits on the Business Improvement District and said he was frustrated with the lack of progress on the property over the years. He said he is pleased with the progress that’s been made so far.

Brad Conrad