North Vernon was named one of two stellar communities. ARa is part of the steering committee and grant administrator for the program.
Background: Indiana’s Stellar Communities Pilot Program is a collaborative effort of IHCDA, INDOT and OCRA seeking to engage two communities to achieve a three-year revitalization strategy that will leverage unified state investment and funding from the partnering agencies to complete projects comprehensively. In the revitalization strategy communities will identify areas of interest and types of projects, produce a schedule to complete projects, produce cost estimates, identify local match amounts, sources, and additional funding resources, indicate the level of community impact, and describe the significance each project will have on the overall comprehensive revitalization of the community. From this revitalization strategy, communities will produce a three-year community investment plan which will identify capital and quality of life projects to be completed during that period.
Carnegie Library Restoration – This project is envisioned as the restoration and adaptive re-use of the former Carnegie Library as the new North Vernon City Hall/Civic Building. The completed project will function as the primary offices for the Mayor, as well as provide meeting space for local clubs, not-for-profits and similar groups. The restoration of this building at its location on US 50 in downtown North Vernon will signal an important re-investment in the downtown business district.Work in the 6,500 square foot structure includes the restoration of the masonry exterior, window repair, new kitchen, restroom work, HVAC replacement, installation of a sprinkler system, asbestos abatement, and finish upgrades. Budget: $704,573
Depot Events Center Restoration of a historic passenger railroad depot to facilitate downtown markets, events and programming. This project will create a vibrant downtown events/community center that will serve as the focal point for downtown programming and events. This amenity will make living downtown more attractive by creating a facility that will house public markets, events, and downtown activities. The Depot Events Center will be created by renovating the former B&O Passenger Railroad Depot. At one time, downtown was home to three passenger depots, and was a natural draw for people commuting throughout Indiana. Only the B&O Depot remains today. With its location on Walnut Street in the heart of the downtown, the location is a natural centerpiece of the City’s downtown and community revitalization efforts. The existing depot is an 1893 B&O Passenger Railroad Depot. It is currently used for maintenance operations by CSX Transportation. This project will allow the building to be acquired and restored to where it becomes a contributing building in North Vernon’s downtown. The renovation of this single story, 3,300 square foot building will include roof replacement, replacement of doors and windows, and masonry restoration. Interior improvements will constitute a complete retrofit with a large community/multi-purpose room, restrooms, and a catering kitchen for events. Budget: $649,585
Short Street Plaza An outdoor plaza will be created in the heart of the downtown by closing Short Street and constructing plaza space. When completed, this project will develop an outdoor plaza in the heart of the downtown. This plaza will be created by closing Short Street, which is a one-half block long, one-way street downtown. Located immediately adjacent to the Depot Events Center, the Park Theatre, White Front Café and other local attractions, the plaza will serve as the central gathering place for the community. Markets, festivals and events will all be accommodated by the plaza space. Notably, the space will compliment the programmed uses at the Depot Events Center by providing outdoor space for events. Improvements will consist of removing existing pavement, installing decorative brick paving, new landscaping, lighting, power for events and related facilities. Budget: $1,100,000
Arvin Site Brownfield Remediation Clean-up of blight conditions at a downtown brownfield site. South of US 50 in the downtown, the former Arvin Manufacturing site has set vacant for over 15 years. The building has deteriorated greatly in that time, and now portions of the roof have collapsed. Its deteriorated appearance not only detracts from the viability of downtown businesses, but also deters investment in the greater Jennings Street neighborhood that it borders. Documented environmental problems have further prevented private redevelopment of the site to date. The City’s initial vision was to convert the site to housing. However, a careful evaluation of the site by the city’s planning consultants identified that the site was not viable for market rate housing –and that subsidized housing may not be effective either. Even if it is not viable for housing, without public investment in the property the environmental problems will go unaddressed and the site will continue to blight on the downtown. Consequently, this project will acquire and demolish the almost 80,000 square foot structure, clean up its documented environmental contamination, and restore the site to a lawn. Budget: $1,742,000
Main Street Mixed Use Development Urban style mixed use housing will be constructed on a key redevelopment site in the downtown. The vision of this project is to substantially increase the density of downtown housing, therefore increasing the vitality of downtown housing. This will be completed by constructing a new mixed-use housing development in the heart of the downtown. Specifically, this project will construct new housing on Main Street at City owned property adjacent to the Police Station. Housing will be mixed use – with first floor retail and upper floor residential. (Final conformance with all IHCDA requirements for affordable housing will be coordinated upon project award). In addition to the new housing, the project will include improvement of Main Street adjacent to the site (between Jackson and Madison Streets) Main Street work will include new sidewalks, pavement, lighting, street trees and related work. Improvements will also include closing a one-block long section of Poplar Street to resolve lingering traffic problems in the block. This will provide enhanced pedestrian and vehicular safety for the residents of the development. Budget: $7,054,000
Downtown Streetscape Implementation of a pedestrian oriented streetscape that will increase the viability of downtown businesses and housing. In reviewing overall priorities, North Vernon’s 2009 Comprehensive Plan identified that streetscaping improvements in the downtown are of the highest priority. The Comprehensive Plan specifically recommended beginning with the triangular block in the heart of the downtown bounded by Madison, Walnut and O&M Streets. This project will implement the vision recommended in the comprehensive plan by constructing exactly those improvements. Work will include Madison Street (between US 50 and Poplar Street), Walnut Street (from US 50 to O&M Street) and O&M Street (from 4th to 5th Streets). Additionally, new sidewalks, curbs, lighting, signage, wayfinding, and related work will be completed on these streets. Historic brick pavements on O&M Street will be preserved.A specific focus of the project will be improving pedestrian walkability in the downtown. This will be created by improving sidewalks, replacing pedestrian crosswalks, creating designated crosswalks across multiple railroad crossings, and related work. Budget: $3,355,000
Historic Uptown Streetscape (Fifth Street) Improvement of the Historic Uptown Business District on Fifth Street will complement and enhance adjacent Irish Hill neighborhood revitalization efforts. Fifth Street is the heart of North Vernon’s Historic Uptown business district. Even more, it serves to connect the downtown to the Irish Hill neighborhood. Irish Hill is a working class neighborhood on the northwest side of the community. It was specifically targeted during the 2009 Comprehensive Plan for neighborhood improvement projects – and housing improvements are included in this Stellar Communities application to implement those recommendations. The comprehensive Plan specifically noted the disconnected nature Irish Hill, and recommended improvements to enhance connectivity to the neighborhood. The construction of streetscape improvements in Historic Uptown will not only improve the business district itself, but will complement and enhance housing work planned for the Irish Hill neighborhood. The project will improve Fifth Street from O&M Street to Hoosier Street. Work will include new sidewalks, curbs, pavement, lighting and landscaping in the corridor. Budget: $645,000
Irish Hill Neighborhood Revitalization Housing improvements will be constructed to revitalize this targeted neighborhood near the downtown. Irish Hill is a working class neighborhood on the northwest side of the community. It was specifically targeted during the 2009 Comprehensive Plan for neighborhood improvement projects. This project will work towards that goal by completing owner occupied rehabilitation of 10 existing homes in the neighborhood. Specifically, the Comprehensive Plan recommends “City subsidized grant and loan programs for home repairs/remodeling to help spur private reinvestment.” This work will be complemented by additional work on Fifth Street to improve that corridor. Budget: $500,000