Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Commission continues to fine-tune development plan for Hawks building

Plan will be broken down into phases.

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — The planned redevelopment of the Hawks building will be broken down into phases, instead of all at once as was originally thought.

Representatives from LaCasa Inc., the business purchasing the building, proposed a plan to the Goshen Redevelopment Commission that requires three phases to turn Hawks into a place for local artists and entrepreneurs.

The first phase would take the south side of the building and turn it into lower income apartments aimed primarily at people employed in the arts, as well as young entrepreneurs.

A market analysis done by LaCasa to gauge interest in apartments at the location estimated that 24 units, spread among the top three floors, was a conservatively realistic number to work from.

After the apartments are completed, phase two of the project would focus on developing either the entire first floor, or a combination of part of both the first and second floors, for commercial tenants.

The final stage in the process would be flexible. LaCasa representatives said that the leftover space could be used for more apartments or more commercial tenants, but they would also be willing to renovate the building to demand.

Larry Gautsche, president of LaCasa, said the switch to a phased redevelopment gives them more time to create a “buzz” among local artists and “build the brand,” and the development can adjust to demand as the project continues. He also added that tax credit funders like phased developments, which could be beneficial to their efforts to receive tax credits.

The Commission had to consider, however, that fewer apartment units right away means a greater challenge to sustain the project over time and delaying what would become phases two and three would require holding costs.

The Redevelopment Commission will likely bring a modified purchase agreement to their next meeting, July 10.

As part of the agreement with LaCasa, the Commission is also responsible for demolishing the non-historic additions to the Hawks building. Mark Brinson, director of the Community Development Department, added that remediation of the area will also be necessary, as some environmental contaminants were discovered beneath the foundation.

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