Opening of Eli's, Starbucks seen as only the beginning
Greencastle and DePauw University officials celebrated more than just the long-awaited opening of a new university bookstore on a corner of the courthouse square Thursday afternoon.
They celebrated the pleasure, passion and potential of partnerships.
Partnership of town and gown. Partnership of city and state. Public and private partnership.
As in Greencastle and DePauw. Or DePauw and Follett & Co. And DePauw and Starbucks.
As first DPU President Brian Casey, and then Mayor Sue Murray addressed a gathering in the Eli's Books portion of the building that once housed the elegant local department store Prevo's, the adjoining room bustled with activity.
"Today is about celebrating partnership as we set out to build the next great college town in America," Casey said as the line for Starbucks coffees and specialty drinks stretched from the counter to the front door while opening ceremonies transpired. "This is an important milestone in Greencastle's Stellar Communities Initiative."
"This is indeed a partnership, and our partners continue to grow," Mayor Murray said after the group reassembled inside following a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Washington Street sidewalk in front of Eli's Books.
Agreeing with that assessment was David Terrell, chief of staff to Becky Skillman, Indiana lieutenant governor who was unable to attend the ceremony due to the death of a close friend.
"The reason we are so excited to be here," Terrell said of the Stellar Communities Initiative that helped make the bookstore and other development possible, "is this represents a partnership between three state agencies, and that's very unusual."
President Casey said moving the university bookstore downtown was an idea he first discussed with Mayor Murray when he interviewed for the DePauw position in 2008.
She remembered that as well. "And today we're celebrating four years of dreaming and hard work," the mayor said.
Some 50,000 people visit the DePauw campus every year, Casey noted, and a great majority find their way to the bookstore to purchase DePauw-related items, gifts and memorabilia as well as books.
Developing Eli's Books and the adjacent Starbucks downtown is DePauw "putting a stake in the ground," Casey said, to assure those visitors not only share in the DePauw experience, but the Greencastle experience as well.
Those words were music to Mayor Murray's ears.
"This is a fantastic anchor for our downtown," she praised.
"We had a lot of renderings, had a lot of dreams and had a lot of discussions," the mayor added, indicating when developers came in she hoped they could share the dream of what the building could eventually look like.
"And it's even more amazing than we imagined," Murray said.
"What a wonderful celebration and a wonderful day for our community," she added in celebration of the first of the city's Stellar Community Grant projects coming to fruition.
"I'm looking forward to many more ribbon-cuttings and special occasions," the mayor concluded.
Many, many people deserve thanks for the vision, the work and the execution, DPU's Casey assured.
He specifically named John Kite and Tom McGowan of Kite Realty Group, developers of the bookstore project, as "keeping the bar set high."
Casey had further praise for the Starbucks people, who he said, "just kept making this project better and better."
And he took time to especially thank the local businesses impacted by the ongoing work at Washington and Indiana streets the past several months.
"Local businesses had to put up with a messy, messy, messy situation for a few months, and we're sorry for that," Casey said.
"There is so much to celebrate," he concluded. "I agree with the mayor. This is just the first of lots and lots of ribbon-cuttings to come."
Incidentally, Eli's Books was named in honor of Eli Lily, who has a historical connection with both Greencastle and DePauw, and whose first drugstore was on the opposite corner of Indiana and Washington streets, where the Downtown Deli now operates.