Metro-east resident and photographer Larissa McDowell wants to bring new life to a historic building in downtown Belleville.
Located at 19 S. High St., a rental photography studio will open in an old storefront that dates back to the 1930s, McDowell said. She’s preserving the old brick to use a backdrop in the space. When it opens, photographers will have the option of paying a monthly fee to shoot sessions and meet with clients there.
Ten photographers have already signed up to the use the space and McDowell will have room for more when renovations are complete.
“This has been a dream of mine for a while,” McDowell said. “I saw this building, wanted it, but couldn’t afford all of the renovations on top of the cost of the building.”
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That’s why when the building went up for auction earlier this year McDowell jumped on top of the opportunity and put in a bid.
The city plans to chip in, too.
The Belleville City Council voted last week to give $5,000 in TIF funds to Larissa Photography to help pay for improvements to the building.
The development agreement calls for Larissa Photography to invest $80,000 to remodel the building by Dec. 31. Two aldermen voted against the TIF grant: Mike Buettner from Ward 2 and Kent Randle from Ward 3.
“We should be using this money to make repairs like fixing sidewalks in front of someone’s home that will benefit from the added safety,” Randle said in a prepared statement he gave the council.
Mayor Mark Eckert said this building has been vacant for a long time and that city officials have tried several times to get a business to open there.
He said the $5,000 is not a “major” cost to the city but it shows the city wants to be a “partner” with businesses.
McDowell wants to call the space High Street Studio. The business will open in December.
This Fairview Heights store will close in January. But it’s just temporary.
After the holiday shopping season ends, the St. Louis-based retailer Here Today plans to temporarily close all area stores.
The discount retailer in Fairview Heights, along with nine additional locations in Missouri, will close in January to modify its store model, the company has confirmed.
“We are reviewing a transaction that resets our ownership structure, ” Here Today wrote in a statement released late Monday afternoon. “We plan to sell down as much of our inventory as possible.”
On Monday afternoon, discount signs were up inside of the Fairview Heights store at the Lincoln Place Shopping Center. Mark downs ranged from 10 to 40 percent off.
Here Today carries family apparel, household items, electronics, toys, select furniture items, groceries and more.
All sales are final leading up to the temporary closure.
“This inventory sell-off offers customers a great opportunity to get some amazing deals and save their families money during the holidays,” the company wrote Monday. “We’re grateful for our loyal metro-east shoppers, hope to finish the year strong, and re-open with an even better version of Here Today next year.”
Here Today was closed Thanksgiving Day. Reopening dates for existing stores and the new Springfield store are yet to be released.