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Village smells BBQ

March 12, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

Coming this summer, whiffs of barbeque could be wafting from what was once the Lake Orion Village Hall.

Village officials were seeking to sell the village hall so that they could move to another site at the old senior center on Church Street and advertised the hall for sale at $525,000.

There was only one bid during the period of January 17 to January 31, but Village Manager Darwin McClary said, it's a good one.

Ever heard of Lockhart's Barbeque of Royal Oak?

Owner Drew Ciaro of Lockhart's, who also owns the Royal Oak Brewery, proposed to open another Lockharts Barbeque at the site of Lake Orion's current headquarters.

Not only did Ciora agree to the appraisal price of $525,000, he is also proposing $1.3 million in investment to the historic building according to McClary.

Conceptual plans include outdoor dining at both entrances, a bar on each level of the building and dining throughout.

The Village Hall Advisory Committee, consisting of President Ken Van Portfliet, council member Brad Mathisen, DDA councilman Gene Carson; DDA director Suzanne Perreault, and McClary, met Tuesday night to review the proposal and prepare for an interview with the restaurant owner.

Council could approve the committee recommendation as soon as the next village council meeting March 24.

"Even though we would have liked to have seen more proposals submitted, this one turned out to be a very attractive proposal and we are excited about it," McClary said.

The village would still own the parcel of property on the northeast end of the building adjacent to the parking lots because there stands the village communication tower: controller of the emergency and 800-number systems, Oakland County's Water Resources Commission data and sewer system control.

"We're going to try and work with them (Ciora) the best that we can to try and promote those concepts," McClary said.

A storage unit for the tower's equipment, currently on the second floor, would have to be built outside the building. The village could front the cost of around $34,000, but McClary said Ciora might have plans for building the structure already.

If not, the council would expect the water resources commission to share in the cost, McClary said.

The village required that any future development maintained the building's historic integrity and proposed additional investment ideas. |The financial position of the developer and the developer's previous experience was also taken into account.

The main reason the village needs this proposal, apart from garnering another destination point, is to finance their move to the old township senior center, vacant on Church St.

McClary said the council chambers and office need to move because they are sorely cramped for space, along with the Lake Orion dispatch center. Part of the money would also finance new computer systems and security upgrades, and police headquarters.

If council approves the proposal, which McClary said is likely, they could close the deal by April 24. In the meantime the village will begin the bidding process for the new village hall's final design plan.

Construction of the new restaurant would take around 41/2 months.

"So there are some things that need to get worked out," McClary said, but as many as 50 new jobs could hit the downtown.

"It would be another anchor, another destination restaurant, which will draw people from all over," McClary said.

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