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Downtown Redevelopment Considers Next Project

January 15, 2014

01/16/14 “What’s next?” That was the question at last week’s Downtown Revitalization meeting. 

The first phase of River Park Square will be completed this spring once the weather breaks.  Revitalization members were asked by member Brent Martin what the next project was they might want to tackle. 

Committee member Dan Tyree commented, “We’ve taken out some assessed value with the park project, maybe we should consider putting some back in.” 

Mayor Mark Senter suggested they look at the city’s comprehensive plan and look at the Nickel Plate area.  This area starts at the Community Resource Center on the north and goes south to the railroad depot at West LaPorte Street.  It runs from Michigan Street to the railroad tracks on the west. 

Committee member Brent Martin noted that local businessman Jim Vinall has a home on West Washington Street that he would like to donate to Habitat for Humanity.  The home is in the same block where two rental properties were raided for meth cooking operations. 

The thought was a possible joint project that might include the city, the Vinalls, a group like Habitat for Humanity.

Committee members suggested an urban type townhouse with a brick façade in keeping with the city’s comprehensive plan.   Due to the additional investment there was also a discussion of having better enforcement of city code. 

Committee member Mark Gidley said, “Investing in a neighborhood that is struggling may spark additional investment in the area.”

Member Dave Morrow commented, “I like the idea of investing in a neighborhood and working from the center out.  The investment just might be what is needed to bring people back downtown.” 

The Downtown Revitalization Committee also discussed the South Gateway area where they tore down the old Cook building and the Deon property.  It has been identified as a redevelopment site and several years ago there was interest in the location.  The mayor said that Deon has shown interest in selling the property.  It was also noted that the city now has property in the area and they would be interested in selling their property to a new development project.  Morrow indicated that a two to three story building with commerce on the main floor and a couple of condos overlooking the Yellow River would do well in the location especially with the proximity to River Park Square. 

At next month’s meeting Mayor Senter will bring copies of the city’s comprehensive plan for members to review.