Angola redevelopment brings change
By Ashlee Hoos | KPC News - The Herald Republican
Redevelopment in downtown Angola is booming, as is evident any time you take a drive around the Public Square and the spokes that extend out on what are Wayne and Maumee streets.
Projects currently under construction in the historic district include the facade at The Venue, 110 W. Maumee St.; the windows at Sutton’s Deli and the old Strand Theatre, 140 and 160 N. Public Square; the Caleo Cafe coming in at 113 W. Maumee St.; roof repairs at the Public Safety Building, 202 W. Gilmore St.; and the microunit apartments at Maumee One, 117 E. Maumee St.
There are also construction projects going throughout the city to bring more businesses to the area, including the new State Bank & Trust location, 307 N. Wayne St.
The new bank building got approval from the Angola Board of Zoning Appeals in late 2016 to begin the work. The building is now taking shape and involved razing a structure that originally was home to a Baskin Robbins in the 1980s.
“We take our downtown very seriously. We want business and building owners to take pride in their business interiors and exteriors,” said Vivian Likes, director of the Angola Economic Development and Planning Department.
She said business owners like Mitch Davis of Mitchell’s Menswear are a prime example.
“He can be seen out front sweeping his sidewalk, tidying up and keeping it nice because he’s got pride in his business and wants to keep his storefront looking sharp,” said Likes.
Through the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Angola helps property owners keep the exteriors of their buildings looking historically accurate by monitoring any proposed work.
There’s also a facade grant that is available to anyone in the commercial historic district. The goal of this grant is to protect the architectural heritage of buildings in the downtown historic commercial district and the National Register of Historic Places and to improve commercial viability through beautification of downtown building facades.
The grant is funded by the city, and applicants must first go to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval. The Angola Common Council gives final approval.
The grant has a $5,000 maximum and depends on a dollar-for-dollar match by the property owner or building tenant.
“Consulting staff from Indiana Landmarks is available to help in the early stages for guidance on projects,” Likes said.
Indiana Landmarks is a non-profit organization based out of Indianapolis with regional offices throughout the state. Its goal is to help people save and revitalize historic places in the state. Indiana Landmarks will have representatives present at the Downtown Angola Coalition meeting at 8:30 a.m. April 5 at Cahoots Coffee Cafe, 218 W. Maumee St.
Developers like Menno Wagler have come to downtown Angola because of the belief that the projects will be beneficial to downtown. Wagler is developing 10 microunit dwellings at 117 E. Maumee St.
Likes said that Wagler received a facade grant previously to revamp the exterior of his building, and that once it was beautiful again his storefronts started filling up rapidly.
Next came Wagler’s apartment development, Maumee One, the first microunits of this style to come to the downtown area.
“We couldn’t hope to be this far ahead if we didn’t have a forward-thinking mayor, clerk-treasurer and council,” Likes said.
Without the downtown businesses, Likes said there wouldn’t be as many people in the area and it would affect Angola as a community.
She also said there are 13,000 vehicles on average through the circle between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. These vehicles coming through are noticing the changing downtown, and she hopes they are liking what they see and will come back to visit.
“If we don’t pay attention to the heart of our city, it’ll fail. Industries and retailers, such as Hobby Lobby, loved this area because of our downtown,” Likes said.
Redevelopment will continue through 2017 and beyond as businesses continue to make use of the grants and assistance from city hall, officials say.