Commission updated on redevelopment targets

Commission suggests $50,000 appropriation to help Northwest Gateway project move forward.

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 27, 2013 at 4:29 p.m.

GOSHEN — Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission members heard updates on two corridors they have tagged for redevelopment at their monthly meeting Thursday, June 27.

Ryan Dudley of Symbiont and Chris Harrell of Lazarus led the presentation on the brownfield project on S.R. 19, Cassopolis Street and Nappanee Street.

Dudley, as the project manager, provided a brief history of the plan that dates to 2006, when the commission began looking at rehabilitating the area.

Harrell explained that the corridor had been broken into 15 areas in an effort to focus more easily on individual locations.

The team working on the rehabilitation has been focusing on a small area owned by Elkhart Schools Corp. and an area south of the railroad that is home to residences and small industrial buildings.

Harrell explained that the team has focused solely on environmental assessment of the area since they cannot secure Environmental Protection Agency funds for cleanup efforts unless the commission owns the land that is to be rehabilitated.

The second corridor discussed is along Old U.S. 20 in the northwest part of the county in a project dubbed the Northwest Gateway.

Ken Jones of Jones, Petrie, Rafinski presented options the commission would have in attracting new businesses to the area.

He spoke about several loan incentives that could be used to draw businesses in, whether they are established companies or start-ups.

Many of the incentives could be forgivable, though only if the businesses reached a pre-determined threshold of success.

Jones said he believed the loans would not be considered “free money” since the commission’s grants would have to be matched by businesses. Even if the loans were eventually forgiven, the businesses would be contributing through their success.

He reported that he’d already spoken with two businesses along the corridor about negotiating easements to improve landscaping in certain areas to meet the commission’s standards for how they would like the corridor to look.

Jones also suggested the commission seriously consider several marketing strategies to identify the project and attract potential partners and businesses, including setting up a web page for either the project or the commission itself, setting up a Facebook page for either and designing signage that could be installed along the corridor to identify the project.

The commission gave Jones permission to begin discussions with established businesses about the easements and to implement some of the marketing strategies.

The commission will suggest the County Council appropriate $50,000 for the tasks, which Jones said will likely more than cover what he expects to accomplish initially.

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