By Jennifer Manlove – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Kannel Family is working on a project that is dear to Chris Kannel’s heart. He started this endeavor in November 2011, when his parents purchased the First National Bank Building. Located at the intersection of Main and Empire in downtown Montpelier, it is a building that everyone knows well. The building has several upstairs apartments as well as four commercial spaces on the first floor. In June of 2012, Mr. Kannel attended a webinar on “Discretionary Grants” that was made available through the Ohio Development Services Agency. The webinar addressed the exact needs that the building had and discussed the various downtown revitalization grants. Then in December 2012 the building was accepted through the preliminary assessment and they were able to move forward to the formal application. The application was submitted for “FY 2013 Community Development Block Grant, Discretionary Targets of Opportunity for Downtown Revitalization” in July of 2013. In October of 2013, they received the official approval of the grant application. The request for the release of funds was effective on January 24, 2014 in the amount of $170,000 from ODSA and were approved in February. Those funds should arrive mid-February 2014 and work can start in March. In order to comply with the terms of the grant they must be finished with the renovations by October 31, 2014.
The renovations will include the upstairs and downstairs interior as well as the exterior of the building. One of the things that will be done is adapting the existing residential units to the current standards, which includes replacing the dilapidated and outdated interiors. The interior renovations are a necessity to bring in tenants, while the outside renovations is important for the community.
One of the most noticeable things passersby may see is the windows. At one point the eight foot windows were replaced with four foot windows and the openings were then filled in with bricks. This will be a great expense, but a definite improvement. The metal cornice that was installed around 1900 will also be restored as it has suffered over the years. There have been decades of rain, ice, snow and salt that have caused significant damage to the brick. In addition to general repairs to the existing masonry we will be replacing the base of the brick walls with split-face block.
Another much needed update is the rear stairs. This will involve the most intensive change of the existing building as the existing stairs will need to be removed, a larger hole will be cut into the second floor and they will install new stairs that are up to code.
The First National Building has been standing at the center of downtown Montpelier for at least 120 years. Mr. Kannel has been diligently working to make the much needed renovations since 2011, and is excited to be on this journey to restore it to a usable and sustainable condition. The community can look forward to seeing these changes take place in March.
Jennifer Manlove may be reached at