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Downtown New London building to become duplex

Rezoning process begins for South Water Street property

By Scott Bellile

A commercial building in downtown New London will be converted into housing.

The New London Planning Commission voted to rezone 117 E. South Water St. from B-1 Central Business District property to R-2 One and Two Family Residential.

Property owner Deb Hurst of Weyauwega requested the zoning change for her building located along the Wolf River, which has been for sale for years.

She told the commission she has several prospective buyers, all of whom wish to convert it into a residential duplex.

The two-story building is already an apartment on the second floor. A commercial business, New London Tax Service, rents the first floor.

The building is surrounded by Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts to the west and residential properties to the south and the east.

The parcel has enough open space on the east side that the new owner could build a garage if they desired, commissioner and Mayor Gary Henke said.

Henke said the only problem with the property is the front door is right next to the road and potentially oncoming traffic. The property lacks a front yard.

Hurst said current tenants use side doors, not the front door.

The rezoning should be completed within four months, Zoning Administrator Paul Hanlon said. That process will include a public hearing for neighbors.

This is not the first time Hurst asked the planning commission to rezone her building to residential. The commission previously approved the same change in 2017, but Hurst withdrew her request afterward.

With the building set to become residential, Kay Stilen, owner of New London Tax Service, will move her business to the village of Bear Creek, she told the Press Star.

Stilen said she bought a building at 201 Prospect St., Bear Creek, in December, but she opted to stay in New London through tax season.

She said she will miss the view of the Wolf River out her window, but she will be closer to home working in Bear Creek.

Stilen added she pays more in rent than she used to when four people worked at New London Tax Service. Now she runs the business alone.

New London Tax Service moved into the building 12 years ago from 520 N. Shawano St., which today is the Mission of Hope House homeless shelter, Stilen said.

Previous commercial occupants in the lower level of 117 E. South Water St. over the decades included the cafe Between Sisters, Together Wedding Photography & Video, Familiar Grounds Coffee Shop, Key Floral and Gifts, New London Carbide Service and R&L Electric.

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