By CARLA KOLBE
NORTHVILLE — The possible sale of a former bank on North Main Street has many members of the Northville Merchants Association worried about the appearance of the village’s downtown.
The bank building at 192 N. Main St. was built in 1895 and is currently under review by a developer who wants to turn it into a Family Dollar Store.
The Northville Village Planning Board is meeting Tuesday for a preliminary site review of the property, at which time the developer will give a detailed presentation of the project in public. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
Earlier this week, the association met to discuss the project and its effect on the downtown area.
In a letter sent to the village of Northville and town of Northampton, the merchants said they recognize future development could be good for the area but are concerned about what will happen to Northville’s historic look.
“If it is at the expense of the delicate financial balance of existing enterprises and jeopardizes the preservation of the architectural character of the downtown, including the rural nature of the Route 30 corridor, we are herein voicing our concern,” the association wrote.
The main concern is that of protecting the historic facade of Northville’s Main Street. North-ville’s first permanent settlement was established in the late 1780s, the Main Street was surveyed and laid out in 1797, and the village was incorporated in 1873. Some buildings remain standing from the mid-1800s, adding to the style and character of the village.
Small, locally owned businesses dot the Main Street, many of which have been in existence for decades.
“Yes, you can probably get some generic budget retailer to settle on Main Street. However, these low-cost box stores will demolish whatever (historic) structures are inconvenient to their development format. More importantly, their presence pre-empts an opportunity for Northville to pursue a far more suitable development path that preserves local character and quality of life for its residents,” said Northampton resident Willem Monster.
The NMA has circulated petitions opposing the demolition of the historic Northville Bank building for the proposed Family Dollar Store, and they are encouraging residents to be present at Tuesday’s meeting to hear what is being considered for the site.
The former Northville Bank building is owned by Luigi Lanzi. According to Lanzi, the property has not yet been sold. He said the building has remained vacant for close to 10 years and is in dire need of repair.
“Believe me, I have tried to think of something. There are spots on the building where the brick crumbles to dust, not just the mortar, but the bricks themselves,” he said.
Should the bank building sell, Lanzi still owns the waterfront parcel beside and behind the property.
“I have concerns about the historic integrity as well, and I hope whoever may own the property will adhere to the past architecture and style,” he said.
Northville Mayor James Groff said the village’s master plan has guidelines to be followed, and said the village will do all it can to continue the historic facade and character of the Main Street.