During the July 13 Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Warrenton Mayor Walter Gardner announced that Jimmy Harris has offered to donate part of the land he bought where Milano’s Restaurant once stood to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The donation of some 500 of the total 6,000 square feet Harris purchased under Main Street Warrenton, LLC, would allow first for a widening of the right-hand turn lane from E. Macon onto Main Street, and then from both directions from Main onto E. Macon at a later date. No timeline has been discussed for when the work would begin or be completed.
Plans for landscaping the now cleared and graded space, paving the road to the left of Quilt Lizzy, adding picnic tables, benches, trash cans, food trucks and murals are being considered.
“I want to work with the town, Preservation Warrenton and the arts council to come up with ideas,” Harris said at the site Tuesday morning.
Asked about his motivation for this idea, Harris said the space was “a scab on the face of Warrenton. Somebody needed to step up.”
Harris went on to say that we’re missing an important business on Main Street. “Anything we can do to bring more people to town, we should do it. The ball is rolling, and I’d like to keep it rolling. Now it’s up to the town and DOT.”
Town Administrator Robert Davie said that he, Mayor Gardner, Harris and a regional director from DOT all need to meet, see what the options are and hammer out the details.
“No time like the present,” Davie said. “We all want to move forward.”
Davie said Ahmed Ibrahim, the former owner of Milano’s Restaurant who had plans to move across the street to 109 N. Main St., is having some difficulty securing financing to complete the necessary renovations to the vacant building. Some $291,000 of the $500,000 grant he received to do the work has been done, namely to the plumbing and electrical systems.
However, Davie said it will take another $150,000 beyond the $109,000 left from the grant to complete the work necessary for Ibrahim to reopen Milano’s in this space. It is unclear what the town would do with the building if Ibrahim cannot raise this money. Davie was scheduled to meet with the town attorney late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the matter further.
Renovations on the second Frontier Warren building are now complete. It is furnished and open for business. “It’s a wonderful asset for downtown Warrenton,” Davie said.
Following recommendations from the July 7 Planning Board meeting, a motion was passed to change mobile home parks from Auto Use to Special Use, like multi-family homes required to seek a permit to build in areas zoned R-20. A public hearing on this issue is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 10.