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2023 was a good year for business projects in Washington

Police Chief Mike McCoy leafs through the agenda packet and City Clerk Valeri Brod takes notes Tuesday during a Washington City Council meeting,
Steve Stein
Police Chief Mike McCoy leafs through the agenda packet and City Clerk Valeri Brod takes notes Tuesday during a Washington City Council meeting,

Residential construction in Washington remained relatively slow in 2023, as it has for several years, but business projects surged compared to 2022.

That's what Jon Oliphant, the city's planning and development director, reported Tuesday to the City Council in his annual development summary.

Permits were issued by city staff for 11 business projects, including four new construction projects, with a combined construction value of about $4.4 million, Oliphant reported. There were six business projects with a combined construction value of $175,000 in 2022.

These were the 2023 new construction business projects:

* Tangled Roots: demolition and foundation/superstructure (two permits).

* Culver's: demolition and new construction (two permits).
* Miller Custom Welding: foundation/superstructure
* Joos Self-Storage: new construction

These were the other 2023 business projects:

* I Do Events: building addition.
* Summit Laundry: laundromat alteration.
* Stark County Ambulance: building alteration.
* Sentimental Journey: rear fire escape construction.
* Super 8: fence.
"We continue to see interest in future commercial projects. Hopefully, that will lead to more construction," Oliphant said.

Asked about the progress of the $8 million Tangled Roots restaurant project on the downtown square, Oliphant said he hopes to receive plans for the rest of the project any day now.

City inspectors will review the plans before a building permit is issued, Oliphant said.

Seventeen residential construction permits (seven single-family, 10 duplexes) with a construction value of about $4.5 million were issued by city staff in 2023, up slightly from 13 permits in 2022, Oliphant reported.

"While the pace of residential development throughout the region has been sluggish for a handful of years, the existing home market continues to be fruitful," Oliphant said.

Oliphant said the continued demand for solar projects in the city in 2023 was noteworthy, with 238 permits issued.

City funding approved for Washington Chamber of Commerce

City Council approved a funding agreement Tuesday for the Washington Chamber of Commerce that provides $30,000 for the 2023-24 fiscal year, which ends April 30, and $35,000 for the 2024-25 fiscal year, which begins May 1.

The funding breakdown for the 2024-25 fiscal year is $12,000 to promote and market Washington, $20,000 to plan, execute and coordinate annual city events like Good Neighbor Days, the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast and Small Business Saturday, and $3,000 for administrative and other expenses.

Chamber officials said at a previous City Council meeting they were late in making a funding request for the current fiscal year because of several internal issues.

Alderperson Lili Stevens, who voted for the agreement because she said the city needs a strong chamber, also said she'd like to see the agreement monitored to make sure the city is getting the services it expects from the chamber.

24 tickets issued for violations of the city's snow-related parking ban

In their regular report to City Council, Police Chief Mike McCoy and Deputy Police Chief Jeff Stevens said Tuesday that 40 warnings for violations of the city's snow-related parking ban were issued last week, followed by 24 tickets; officers seized loaded handguns in two incidents, one an investigation of disorderly conduct involving an intoxicated person and one an investigation of unlawful transportation of cannabis; and a speeder was caught going 75 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone on Gilman Avenue.

Steve Stein is an award-winning news and sports writer and editor. Most recently, he covered Tazewell County communities for the Peoria Journal Star for 18 years.