“The city of Ripon is soliciting proposals to redevelop sections of the 200 & 300 blocks of Watson Street located in the Downtown Ripon Historical District. Proposals can include commercial, residential, or a mixture of both. Creative ideas are encouraged ...”

   Thus begins the city of Ripon’s invitation to potential developers to remold downtown’s biggest white elephant into useful space. The city of Ripon is moving rapidly toward not only identifying potential developers but selecting one or more with specific plans for construction.

   It’s all part of a plan approved Tuesday night by the Common Council to release a request for proposals (RFP) it has created in conjunction with other stakeholders to attract just such a developer.

   “We have the walk-through scheduled for Oct. 25, with submissions required by Nov. 9,” Ripon Main Street Manager Craig Tebon said, while addressing the council Tuesday night. “... We want these sooner rather than later so that we can get a project to happen hopefully this winter and have something spring-ish, summer, something like that.”

   The site in question includes seven buildings, plus one outbuilding, with a total fair-market value of $2.45 million.

   The heart of those properties are 230 Watson (former Mapes House) and 300 Watson (former American House). They represent roughly the properties once slated for Boca Grande Capital’s dream of a Ripon Inn & Spa.

   That project failed to occur despite millions of dollars set aside for it from a developer’s agreement with Boca. Now the city is hoping a new party will have interest in a local project, but this time on Ripon’s terms as outlined in the RFP approved Tuesday.

Read the full story, including details of the RFP, in the Oct. 11, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.