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Facade work continues to reveal downtown surprises

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Facade work on the building owned by Dr. Thomas Black on the east side of the courthouse square at 19 N. Indiana St. has revealed seven stone arches, located in the bricked area above the main floor entry. The Historic Landmarks Foundation has advised that the arches are considered historic and need to be saved during the facade restoration work.
(Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE) [Order this photo]
Ongoing restoration of storefront facades in downtown Greencastle continues to both surprise and confound construction crews and city officials alike.

The latest unexpected development has emerged on the east side of the courthouse square, where workmen from Advanced Restoration Contractors (ARC), Indianapolis, have been removing portions of the facade above the old drapery shop at 19 N. Indiana St. to reveal architecture of historical significance.

Above the main floor entry to the Dr. Thomas Black-owned building, seven stone arches have been revealed.

The Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation has informed ARC that the aches are indeed historic and need to be saved during the facade restoration process.

But it's not as easy as that sounds, ARC project manager Jason Miller explained to the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission earlier this week.

The arches have been tiled over in generations past. Some of them have been damaged as framing was hammered into place to cover them over at some point in the life of the building.

How much of a cost and an inconvenience the unexpected discovery will mean to the project has not yet been determined.

"We haven't developed the full scope of the work," ARC's Miller said.

Brent Mather of Brenner Design, senior project manager on the facade portion of the city's Stellar Community Grant work, agreed.

"It's not a $100,000 project and it's not a $4,000 project," he said. "It's somewhere in between."

While Mather, Miller and city officials are unsure of the extent of extra funding that facade will require, they have apparently resolved the dilemma above The Swizzle Stick and Almost Home at 19 and 21 N. Franklin St. on the north side of the square.

Creating a new veneer brick facade where there is now only wood paneling will be an estimated $45,108 expense, although the net increase will be $30,338 after property owner Gail Smith agreed to several deductions to other elements of the overall project.

The deductions will involve a reduction in stained glass and revised restoration efforts on five historic windows and the substitution of casement windows where french doors had been planned.

The new brick facade comes "in lieu of restoring the brick we thought was there and restoring the windows we thought were there," Miller said.

The Smith property issue caught everyone involved in the project by surprise, especially since test borings revealed brick and paint beneath the corners of the old facade.

"We've never encountered anything similar before," Miller said of the numerous restoration efforts ARC has undertaken. "It's really odd not to have anything there."

"You think you've planned for the worst-case scenario," Mayor Sue Murray noted. "But who would have ever thought the worst-case scenario would be no second-floor facade?"

The surprises, however, may be near an end.

"For the most part, we're uncovered now," Miller said. "We don't any huge problems."

Moore's Bar is probably the last building involved in the facade project that has a portion of its front covered.

"From the beginning," Mather noted, "the plan was for the most difficult buildings with the most unknowns to be done first."

Changes are also in store for the building at 25 W. Franklin St. (the northeast corner of Franklin and Jackson streets), owned by Tad and Amy Robinson, Greencastle.

The outdoor stairway that provided access to the second floor will not be restored to the sidewalk outside the building, but will be incorporated into the interior.

"The Robinsons have approved the change and they're fine with it," City Attorney Laurie Hardwick said, noting that the change will certainly benefit the "safety and ease of the traveling public."

Meanwhile further restoration efforts on that building are at a standstill until it is determined the best way to remove the paint from the brick and limestone exterior.

Overall, the Redevelopment Commission approved $41,073 in change orders on the facade projects.

The facade work has been funded with a 90-10 grant with property owners putting up 10 percent and the remainder of the funding coming from the Stellar Grant ($1 million in the first phase and $500,000 in the upcoming second phase). The rest is being covered via Redevelopment Commission funds.

The progress downtown has generated increased interest among property owners who had not previously expressed any desire to be a part of the project, Mayor Murray noted.

The city, however, only has "limited resources" for the work (i.e., the $500,000 in the second phase), the mayor said.

"We're pretty well assured we're not going to get any more OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) funds for facades," she said, noting that Greencastle has received more than any other community for such work.

Plainfield, for example, received $500,000 for its downtown facade work in an 80-20 matching grant program.

The mayor asked Redevelopment members Erika Gilmore, Drew Brattain, Gwen Morris, Gary Lemon and Jim Ruark to think about the added interest in the next phase (2013) of the facade project and "give us some direction."

The next meeting of the Greencastle Development Commission is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 at City Hall.

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Grant dollors = tax dollars So why are privatly owned business getting free face lifts? Souldn't this all be between DePauw and the private owners?

-- Posted by Trying hard on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 7:40 AM

I think of all the people I know who are either homeless or living in highly inadequate and unsafe housing conditions (holes in floors they can't afford to repair, poorly functioning plumbing, leaking roofs, unable to heat their homes adequately in winter) and just....I love architecture, I recognize the value of preserving historical areas, but not at the cost of the well being and possibly the lives of human beings. For a while there were grants available through the electric company that I know a lot of people applied for and were qualified for as they live well below the poverty level, but the grant money ran out long before the people needing and qualified for the help did. The amounts of money being quoted above could go towards making adequate living conditions for easily a hundred or more people who do not have them, as opposed to making a few buildings downtown look pretty.

I'd far rather see these buildings getting basic necessary for safety upkeep and nothing else than read about people being found dead in their homes because they did not basic fundamental needs met, like heat, or people dying of heat stroke in the summer. Our disregard of the elderly and disabled and those who are alone and without any support is shameful.

-- Posted by Heron on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 1:07 PM

I agree with all of the above. No one has helped me make my home more energy efficient. I understand that the homeowners that had their homes fixed or repaired had to pay a tiny portion and attend a class. But if you do not live in Greencastle, you do not qualify. Also I do agree with Trying hard, about privately owned businesses getting help. They also had to pay a percentage however they are getting alot for what they had to pay. They bought the buildings and opened up their own business so they could make a living and make profits each year. Grant Dollars must come off the GRANT TREE at the State! They surely do not come from taxpayers.haha

-- Posted by stealthmode on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 7:53 AM

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