Crown Point looking to improve downtown area
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent June 16, 2012 3:58PM
Updated: July 18, 2012 6:31AM
Downtown Crown Point may be getting a face-lift of sorts as officials look at the best ways to utilize the space and add amenities, including a possible bandshell.
Last week the Redevelopment Commission approved hiring the engineering firm of Butler, Fairman & Seufert Inc., of Merrillville to conduct a feasibility study to determine what can be done to improve the vibrant downtown area and the Board of Public Works and Safety then authorized the Redevelopment Commission’s not-to-exceed $24,650 expenditure.
The study would include site visits, a kickoff with a rendering of possibilities, public meetings if needed and a second rendering if changes are made.
Mayor David Uran said the Redevelopment Commission has long wanted to conduct such a study to find a way to better define the city’s downtown, maximize the square footage used for festivals and events without closing roads, and consider the possibility of a bandshell on either public or private property in the area.
“We’d like to find a location to take these festivals off the street,” Uran said.
Keith Stevens, the city’s chief of staff, said the downtown area that will be looked at in the study is not just the square. The area is bounded by Walnut Street on the south, Robinson Court on the north and West and East streets.
One possible site for a bandshell could be the former bus barn on the west side of downtown owned by the Crown Point Community School Corp. Uran said he would like to approach school officials to see if they would be interested in some type of partnership.
Thomas Hoffman, the school corporation’s representative on the Redevelopment Commission, said a partnership could be a possibility. Hoffman said the bus property is to the point where school officials must make repairs or determine what to do with the property.
“If we can avoid making that kind of investment ... we can see if that location makes sense to both sides,” Hoffman said.
Any work could be funded in part by $1 million from a proposed $5 million low-interest bond the Redevelopment Commission is pursuing for the current Phase II work at the Sportsplex. The first $2 million in bond revenues are dedicated to fund the Phase II improvements at Sportsplex and to qualify for a $2 million matching grant from the Dean and Barbara White Foundation.
Later this summer officials will have the option of approving just the $2 million that has already been committed or the full $5 million. If the full amount is approved, the Redevelopment Commission could tap the additional money to fund $2 million in Phase III improvements to the Sportsplex with $1 million earmarked for the downtown revitalization project. The bonds would be paid back through the city’s tax increment financing dollars.
As with the Phase II improvements to the Sportsplex, Uran said he would like officials to leverage the $1 million for any downtown improvements in the same way.