State OKs funding for city parking lots, Miller Asbury

Friday, May 23, 2014
Greencastle's old Miller School, last used as an educational facility in 2010 as the school corporation's offices, is due to become 30 senior living housing units in a project approved for a $6 million loan approved Thursday through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

A pair of Greencastle projects moved closer to reality Thursday with financial support approved by an Indiana funding agency.

Both the city's downtown parking lots venture and the Milestone Ventures project to convert old Miller School into senior housing received funding approval from the Indiana Housing Community Development Authority (IHCDA) during its meeting at Indianapolis.

The City of Greencastle was approved for $1.8 million in grant money -- "exactly what we asked for," Mayor Sue Murray told the Banner Graphic -- for the development of new parking lots in a pair of downtown locations.

The two lots are to be developed in lieu of a previously proposed $3.4 million downtown parking garage that yielded bids nearly $1 million above estimate and then $750,000 too high in two attempts to bid out the project to contractors.

The $1.8 million approved by the IHCDA will go toward construction of parking lots on property along Market Street purchased from the Moose Lodge earlier this spring and the site bounded by Jackson, Walnut and Indiana streets following prior acquisition of the First Christian Church parking lot and the old Darrell Felling law office site.

The Moose site -- comprised of everything east of the lodge and bounded by Washington, Market and Franklin streets a block west of the courthouse square -- will provide a second downtown surface lot in lieu of building the 146-space parking garage that had been part of the city's original $19.2 million Stellar Grant effort.

Greencastle has scheduled a prebid meeting for June 5, Mayor Murray said, as the city must solicit proposals from five firms, two of which must be classified as minority businesses.

The project will also be put out for public bid so that other firms have a chance to apply for the construction phase of the work.

"Our hope is to get it done as soon as possible," Mayor Murray offered. "This has been three years in the making, so let's hope the estimates are good and we can get this thing moving."

Meanwhile, the state agency also approved a $6 million loan, on a two-year payback, for the Miller Asbury apartment project at Miller School, 522 E. Anderson St.

Chuck Heintzelman, one of the Milestone Ventures principals, was present for the IHCDA meeting Thursday.

The project had previously been awarded $681,399 in tax credits.

Milestone Ventures' plans to convert the school building -- last used for classes in 1980 -- into 30 senior living units. The project already has approvals from the Greencastle City Council, Board of Zoning Appeals and Board of Public Works and Safety.

Heintzelman previously said plans for old school site include 12 one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units for persons age 55 and up or 62 and up.

His firm's proposal would not only renovate the old school building but also add a completely new two-story wing (with matching brick) to the southeast side of the structure.

That will require two additions at the southeast side of Miller to be razed. Those are areas not deemed historic and last actively used when Area 30 Career Center occupied the site.

"We plan to redevelop the school building, preserving the historic front portion and demolishing the two additions," Heintzelman said last fall. That, he said, would "preserve the look of Miller School, so as you drive down Anderson Street, you still see that familiar facade."

Back in October, the City Council unanimously approved a $250,000 purchase price offer from Milestone, a figure reportedly well above the appraised value (average of two appraisals) on the building and nearly three-acre parcel of real estate adjacent to Robe-Ann Park.

Heintzelman has predicted a 12-month construction timeline with the project beginning this October and being completed in October 2015.

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