Kendallville Redevelopment Commission agrees to help fund downtown project
By Dennis Nartker | The News Sun
Replacing sidewalks is among the projects planned for the downtown business district next year if the city of Kendallville can secure a grant.
The city’s Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday agreed to pay half the $1 million cost for the proposed Main Street streetscape program after a lengthy discussion with Mayor Suzanne Handshoe, streetscape committee members and a representative from the Indiana Main Street program.
Commission President Ray Scott described the result of the discussion as a “compromise” between what the mayor wanted and what commissioners believed their budget would allow, while also maintaining the city’s facade matching grant program.
Commission members agreed to commit $200,000 of its existing funds, totaling about $288,000, and another $300,000 from a low-interest loan paid back over seven years, at $43,000 a year.
The RDC receives about $100,000 annually in revenue from the downtown tax increment financing district. The commission would have approximately $88,000 left in its TIF fund plus approximately $55,000 a year over the seven years for facade matching grants and miscellaneous expenditures.
When streetscape committee members first approached the RDC for support on Nov. 9, commissioners said they didn’t want to see the RDC’s funds reduced so much that no money would be available for the facade program, and they tabled a decision.
The RDC makes available matching facade grants to building owners and business owners within the downtown TIF district to encourage exterior improvements to their properties.
The commission allocates $60,000 a year for the facade grant program.
In addition to the $288,000 in its TIF Fund, the RDC has $47,077 remaining for facade grants this year.
Handshoe proposed the RDC finance $400,000 over seven years.
An Indiana Main Street program representative recommended the city apply for a $500,000 community development block grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs Main Street program for its streetscape improvements.
In 2015, the downtown business district was designated an Indiana Main Street, making the area eligible for grants.
In addition to new sidewalks from Rush Street north to the railroad crossing, streetscape improvements include: new curb and disabled ramps; LED lighting for the streetlights and overhead boulevard light poles; new wiring, benches and bike racks; and possibly new underground water and sewer lines.
Last January, representatives from Jones Petrie Rafinski, an engineering firm specializing in streetscape projects, gave a presentation to RDC members on streetscape projects completed in other communities and possible upgrades to Kendallville’s downtown business district.
The RDC support is based on the city getting the $500,000 state grant.
Side streets off Main Street are not included in the estimated $1 million in improvements.