BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Monnette’s Market is now the official owner of the 200 block of Conant Street.
On February 11, Marc Monnette sealed the deal with the city by purchasing all four parcels of property – from Wayne to Broadway streets – for $306,000.
“I love the homegrown feel of uptown Maumee because that is what we are,” Monnette said. “It has more of a local business sense and that is what we want to offer Maumee.”
Last year, Maumee City Council approved selling the property; however, the sale was contingent pending certain environmental tests and design approvals.
Late last year, the Design Review Board approved a design plan request for a new 9,500-square-foot market and more recently, a series of environmental tests confirmed that the land is buildable.
Now, Monnette will reconvene with the architect to finalize the design plans, which will be presented to the city for final approval. Among the items he is requesting is a permanent greenhouse, modifications on signage requirements and curb cuts.
While the west elevation, which faces Conant Street, will look like multiple buildings, with various brick and rooflines along the front elevation, Monnette will ask the city to approve adding a permanent greenhouse to the east side of the property, which was not in the previous design request. The greenhouse would allow the market to carry and display spring and summer flowers and homegrown produce, he said.
“We do have a good feel for what Maumee is looking for as far as the look of the location – to keep that uptown feeling,” he said.
In addition to fresh produce, the market will sell deli products, beer and wine and it will include tenant space, which will house a restaurant operated by an independent, locally owned eatery, with an outdoor seating area.
“That was in the original design and we have already had interest in that space. I do believe that we have enough local talent that we can find a good fit for it,” Monnette said.
Monnette will ask approval for signage that will allow daily specials to be displayed. Currently, Maumee offers very minimal amounts of signage, but Monnette is hoping that the city will allow him to utilize the signage that he says is vital to his business needs, such as a marquee-type.
“We might go to market expecting to get 20 cases of lettuce and come back with 200 cases of strawberries – we don’t know necessarily from one day to the next what we’re going to find,” he said. “So when we get that product, it is so important that we get that information out to our consumers as fast as possible.”
Municipalities where other Monnette’s Market stores are located, including Sylvania and Toledo, have granted the signage needed, he added.
Monnette will also request a curb cut off the 200 block of Conant Street into the property. It is likely a qualified engineer would complete a traffic study; however, he does not believe such a request would negatively impede traffic flow in that block.
Monnette also plans to enhance the outdoor area with seating and flower gardens that will beautify the uptown district.
While it is ambitious, Monnette is hoping to break ground in either late spring or early summer. He anticipates 40 to 50 new jobs associated with construction of the new market. His interest in moving to Maumee stemmed primarily from having a dedicated energetic staff that he knew was up for the task. Other cities including Oregon and Perrysburg would have welcomed a new Monnette’s store, but he is very happy to settle in Maumee.
“If it wasn’t for my employees being in the position they are in, as far as running my business and doing such a fantastic job, I would not have looked any farther to open up another store,” he said.
Historically, Maumee city leaders who made the decision to purchase the commercial property did so with the intent of economic development and reinvestment in the uptown business district.
In 1978, Maumee purchased the northern portion of the property for $55,000 and an additional $80,000 was invested to pay for demolition and environmental work. In 2004, the city purchased the southern portion of the property for $250,000.
Sale of the property to Monnette surrounded months of speculation as to what would be done with the land, including a flurry of social media activity, a packed public meeting and infighting among city officials. While he wishes to remain free of any political discord, Monnette credits city administrator John Jezak for being able to move the project forward.
“John Jezak saw the need for a business like ours in the city and he was passionate about it; and me, being the business owner, I appreciated it. He didn’t do it for me and he didn’t do it for himself, he did it because he thought it would be good for the city and for the residents and for the businesses in the community. I am not trying to be political at all, but he did help pave the road for our business to be there in Maumee,” he said.
Currently, Jezak is on paid administrative leave pending fallout from an ethics investigation, which involved sale of the property to Monnette.
While he is aware of the situation, Monnette has not taken any of it personally and is excited about being part of the Maumee community.
“We’re looking forward to working with Maumee – whoever is in charge,” he said. “We want to make Maumee proud and they will be proud because this is a great fit for the community.”