Here's hoping they can pull it off
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:00 PM
Here's hoping Vandalia Heritage Foundation can get it done.
"It" of course is the renovation/rehabilitation of the Ben Hur Life building on the corner of Main and Water streets in downtown Crawfordsville.
I've been known to "flip-flop" on my opinions and here I go again.
Several months ago I stated in this column I doubted the old Culver hospital would be repurposed. Evidently, I was wrong. Work has begun and from every indication the project will be successful.
Now, we are told, a process similar to the one used with the old hospital building can be used on the Ben Hur building. Good for us.
I can remember going to the dentist on one of the upper floors of the Ben Hur building not long after moving to Crawfordsville. I remember visiting Jack Wyatt in his office in the Ben Hur building.
But I also remember the Board of Works meeting when it was decided something had to be done because pieces of the building were falling to the sidewalk. The "solution" for too many years has been to string yellow tape around the building and warn pedestrians to stay away.
I'm not finding fault. I understand why the situation has been stagnant but I also appreciate Mayor Todd Barton's work and his words at the county commissioners' meeting this week: The time is soon coming when the issue will be resolved one way or another.
The regime of the yellow tape at the Ben Hur building needs to come to an end.
I like the idea of private investment turning the building from an eyesore into a show place.
The Vandalia group knows how to get things done.
Vandalia Heritage Foundation of Fairmont, W. Va., looks for buildings like the Ben Hur Life building and finds ways to make them a useful part of a community. In the case of the Ben Hur building, the group plans to make the exterior as beautiful as when it was new.
Ken Remenschneider is president of Remenschneider & Associates. He is working on the bicycle and pedestrian paths that may become a part of downtown Crawfordsville. He admired the Ben Hur building while working on the paths project.
Remenschneider told the commissioners they can visit the city of Wabash and see how beautifully a similar project there has turned out.
Are the tax credits a good thing? Let's just say they are necessary. If they can be sold to make the investment of $7.5 million palatable, and if that means the building becomes a revenue producer instead of a possible drain on resources, then yes, the tax credits are worth it.
Speaking of taxes, California Pellet Mill received a seven-year tax abatement from the City of Crawfordsville this week.
The tax abatement will give CPM tax deductions to encourage the company to invest in its business here in Crawfordsville.
Carl Allis, plant manager, told the City Council that not only will a planned expansion create new jobs, it will result in some houses that have been allowed to deteriorate to be demolished to make room for the 8,000 square-foot expansion to the company's present 55,000 square-foot building.
California Pellet Mill has been here since 1946 and the company is investing $6 million in the Crawfordsville operation. Allis said.
Again, good for us.
Frank Phillips is the editor of The Paper of Montgomery County.