Two redevelopment proposals submitted for armory building

The Elkhart Redevelopment Commission has received two proposals to rehab the armory.
Posted on May 15, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 16, 2013 at 9:27 a.m.

ELKHART — Two groups have formally submitted plans to renovate the dilapidated armory building on North Main Street in Elkhart.

At the same time, eight companies are poised to learn if one of them will be hired by the city to tear down the building at 200 N. Main St.

All 10 entities will be watching closely next week when a decision on the fate of the historic building could be made at a special meeting of the city’s redevelopment commission.

On Tuesday, the redevelopment commission received proposals from two companies seeking to repair and renovate the building: Cripe Design of Elkhart and David R. Snyder of South Bend.

A week earlier, the city received eight bids from companies seeking the contract in case the city determines demolition is the best option.

With the building’s condition deteriorating significantly in recent months, the city has been moving on parallel tracks to either save the building or have it demolished. Those tracks will likely cross next week when Barkley Garrett, the city’s director of economic development, makes a recommendation on the two renovation proposals May 23 at the special meeting of the redevelopment commission.

The proposals include details for a proposed use, plans to repair the building, a financial plan and a timeline, Garrett said.

Details of the proposals were not immediately available.

The city is seeking $103,000 in exchange for the building and parking lots associated with the property, but the proposals could submit a plan for less, Garrett said.

The city is also willing to invest an amount of money equal to the cost of demolition if one of the proposals is approved. Tentatively, the city is looking at around $175,000 to provide for the project.

If the commission likes one of the proposals, the company of choice would be given time to look into the project more closely and would still have an opportunity to opt out, Garrett said.

If the commission determines neither proposal is worthwhile, it can reject both.

If that happens, the board of public works is expected to select one of the eight bidders for demolition at one of its meetings in June.

Bids for demolition range from about $134,000 to $273,000, Garrett said.

The building was originally constructed in about 1885 and has served numerous purposes through the years. It most recently was a liquor store, but has been empty for more than two years.

The city acquired the property late last year because of its dilapidated condition.

Earlier this year, the roof began to collapse from the weight of snow. Officials consider the building a safety concern and have been moving swiftly to reach a decision on its future.

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