Landing, Clyde vie for funds

January 17th, 2017

By Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

The Landing and Clyde Theatre projects will take center stage today at the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority’s monthly meeting.

The two local projects have a combined price tag of more than $40 million.  

The meeting, which is being held in Shipshewana, will include updates on projects already funded, those accepted by the board but awaiting approval by the Indiana Economic Development Corp., and those that have requested grants but are awaiting a board decision.

Posterity Scholar House, a single-parent housing project in Fort Wayne, and Michiana Event Center, a large-scale tourist attraction in Shipshewana, are both waiting for a vote of the Regional Development Authority’s board. One or both of those decisions could come as early as today.

Developers and supporters will present The Landing revitalization and Clyde Theatre renovation projects during the meeting, which begins at 2 p.m. at the Blue Gate Theatre.

The Landing is a one-block stretch of West Columbia Street that, over the years, has been a local music haven, the site of block parties, Mardi Gras festivals and other events. In more recent years, the street has been scattered with restaurants, nightclubs and offices.

The sycamore-lined street lies between Harrison and Calhoun streets.

A $35.7 million redevelopment project calls for modernizing existing Italianate-style buildings in compliance with strict national historic preservation guidelines and constructing an additional building to replace the former 95-room Rosemarie Hotel.

Developers are asking for $6.9 million from the Regional Development Authority.

Local officials want to see new restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues open on the first floors of buildings, offices could be on the second floors, and residential units would be on the upper floors. Plans call for 72 housing units.

The developer wants to fill the retail space with unique local businesses, such as coffee shops, bakeries, diners and brewpubs.

The Model Group, which was chosen to develop The Landing, has helped transform other underperforming neighborhoods, including Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati firm has experience with assembling the complicated financial package required to pay for such projects.

A preliminary timeline calls for construction to begin in June and be ready for occupancy in September 2018.

Jeff Turner, chairman of the Regional Development Authority, attended a late-October public presentation to get a first look at the project.

“I think it’s the kind of project that fits” state requirements to receive Regional Cities Initiative grant money, he said at the time. “The issue we’re going to have is not is it a good project, but how does it compare to other good projects?”

A second project vying for funding is the Clyde Theatre in Quimby Village shopping center on Bluffton Road. Now closed, the 1950s-era movie theater once could accommodate almost 1,800 patrons.

Plans call for transforming the space into a live music venue, capable of seating about 600 or hosting a standing audience of 2,200. The interior includes a stage, concessions area and offices.

Rick Kinney, who acquired the property, is partnering on the project with Chuck Sur­ack, founder of Sweetwater Sound, which works with some of the biggest names in the music business.

“They’re anticipating bringing in big deal, national acts,” said Michael Galbraith, director of the Road to One Million – the organized effort to spend Regional Cities money to jump-start economic development in northeast Indiana.

The $5 million renovation project calls for interior and exterior upgrades, including repaving the dilapidated parking lot. The developers are asking for $1 million.

So far, the Regional Development Authority has approved $16.1 million in grants. Of those, the IEDC has signed off on $13.6 million.

All told, the Regional Development Authority has received requests for $25.9 million of the $41 million it has at its disposal. About $1 million of the original $42 million was designated for administrative costs.