The question of what Windsor’s historic mill could become in the future was the topic of a town hall meeting hosted by the Windsor Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday.
The meeting presented preliminary findings from an ongoing process to create the Windsor Historic Mill Feasibility Study, which will eventually be used to entice investors to bring in new businesses or amenities to the location.
The Downtown Development Authority hosted the meeting, as well as contributed $20,000 toward the study, along with $20,000 in matching funds from the Department of Local Affairs.
About 25 people sat in the audience in town hall and listened to representatives from Holtkamp Planning, Jay Corder Architecture, Root Architecture and KL&A Structural Engineers as they offered a structural analysis and suggested uses for the building.
The five-story mill has many potential uses — like a restaurant/café/brew pub, retail businesses or residential uses — that were determined to be feasible, based on market data, according to Chris Holtkamp with Holtkamp Planning.
He said factors that played into the group’s conclusions included the town’s rapid population growth, diverse mix of businesses, proximity to other rapidly growing communities and the area’s relatively high average income.
Jake Hohmann with KL&A said the building was well-built and is in relatively good shape. He said some upgrades would be needed to bring the building up to code, but the building was in better shape than other historic mills in the surrounding area.
“What that really means is that we have the opportunity to put a lot of different uses into it without requiring major upgrades,” Hohmann said.
The group presented three different schemes for the building, but said they could by hybridized to include concepts from any of the schemes.
The first scheme featured a brewpub and lounge in the lower level of the mill, with a restaurant and retail uses on the second floor. The top three floors, the group said, could be divided and used as apartments.
The second scheme featured a bar/lounge on the lower level, with a café, gallery space, outdoor dining and public event space above. The upper floors could be used for office space.
The third scheme featured a billiards hall and sunken plaza in the lowest floor, with a restaurant, gallery and outdoor event and dining space above. The upper floors could be leased as live/work spaces.
Later in the meeting, the public was asked to weigh in on what attractions they would like to see in the space. Multiple members of the public asked when cost estimates would be available for improvements to the building.
“The final report that we present is going to have some cost estimates in it,” Holtkamp said. “Once we have an idea of what is the highest and best use for the building, based on this process, there are going to be some numbers with that.”
Though the public was asked to provide input about what they’d like to see the building become, Holtkamp said Ron Lauer owns the mill and he will have the final say about what happens with the property.
After the meeting, Lauer said he was open to the ideas presented during the meeting.
“I think it’s all great,” Lauer said. “I’m waiting to see what they come up with, just like everybody else.”