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Grafft plans to buy downtown Janesville buildings

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Jim Leute
October 14, 2013

JANESVILLE—Jim Grafft has several ideas for the redevelopment of what likely will be his latest acquisition in downtown Janesville.

Retail is a definite possibility for the two buildings that formerly housed Rock County Appliance on Court and Main streets.

Grafft also has fielded suggestions to open a grocery store similar to Bushel & Peck's in Beloit.

“I just don't know at this point,” said Grafft, a Janesville businessman who owns several properties and businesses in Rock County.

Grafft is in the process of buying but hasn't closed on the two buildings at 38 and 34 S. Main St.

After 40 years on the corner, Rock County Appliance owners Dave Grosenick and Don Grosenick Jr. closed the business in September.

The brothers' father, Donald, opened the business in 1962 and moved it to the former home of JCPenney at Court and Main in the early 1970s. The building was constructed between the late 1840s and 1860s.

Grafft said he's virtually certain the space will not include a restaurant. He's already working to find someone who wants to open restaurants at two of his other Janesville properties: The Monterey Hotel and the Fairview Mall.

He bought and has stored many of the fixtures, equipment and memorabilia from the recently remodeled Applebee's and the closed Damon's Grill.

“I'm already trying to develop two restaurants,” he said. “I just need to find someone to run them.”

The two downtown buildings total about 21,000 square feet, according to land records at City Hall. The multistory building on the corner once housed a church upstairs.

Grafft said much of the space would need to be renovated.

That, however, is not likely to happen overnight, he said.

The city plans to demolish its parking plaza above the Rock River, eliminating 219 downtown parking spots by about 2016. City staff is creating a redevelopment plan.

Grafft is interested in what the plan would entail and where replacement parking would be made available because the parking deck sits behind the buildings he wants to buy and behind the Olde Towne Mall, which Grafft also owns.

“We have to unwind this parking problem first,” he said. “It would be foolish for me to do anything until we know what's going to happen with that.”

FORMER THEATER RENOVATED

Grafft also is in the process of renovating the building at 1620 Newport Ave.

The former Rock Theater closed in 2010, and Grafft bought the building in 2012.

Grafft said Motion Industries plans to lease the building after it moves from 2302 Beloit Ave.

Motion Industries is a distributor of maintenance, repair and operating replacement products and services to 150,000 government and industrial customers in North America.

It has more than 550 locations in North America, including 13 other locations in Wisconsin.

“They are a business-to-business distributor, much like Fastenal or Grainger,” Grafft said. “We buy from them and sell to them.”



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