Bluffton looks to revitalize its downtown starting with the courthouse

May 5th, 2016

News Coverage:

May 4, 2016

Bluffton looks to revitalize its downtown starting with the courthouse

WISE Web News

Bluffton, Ind. (21Alive) - Taking notes from the city of Fort Wayne, Bluffton is now looking to revitalize its downtown area. A group of Bluffton residents along with their mayor, Ted Ellis, want to improve the quality of life and quality of place in their city.

A Fort Wayne design group, led by a Bluffton native, made a presentation Wednesday night to the Bluffton City and County Council, where they laid out their vision for one revitalization project that they hope will lead to many more in the future.

    This project centers around Bluffton's courthouse. The group wants to renovate the existing courthouse, and build a plaza right beside it. Based on renderings of the project, the courthouse green could be as versatile as the city wants it to be. One picture shows it being used as a farmer's market.

    Mayor Ellis says this project would be a nice first step to revitalize downtown and he hopes it will bring people and their dollars back to the heart of the city.

    This project would cost anywhere between $600,000 and $750,000 so project leaders are turning to Bluffton's city-county council to approve funding for 20% of the cost.

    "We're hoping that the size of this project, the magnitude of this project..this project is less than a million dollars so their investment is less than $200,000 so we really hope that this is manageable and not too overwhelming for them," said Mark Reinhard with the design group Engineering Resources.

    "Bluffton is a pretty healthy community to begin with but unless we keep on this we're going to fall behind, so we've got to keep up our revitalization in our downtown where we need to do some work, tie some trails in, we'll be there and we'll keep on plugging," said Mayor Ellis.

    Reinhard says 60% of the cost of the project would be funded by private dollars, and they're looking to get their hands on Regional Cities money to fund the remaining 20%.