Next step for Next Stop, Beech Grove

Main Street organization to file for planning grant for Beech Grove revitalization

How will Beech Grove become the next stop, the next destination point?

From left, John Fortwengler, Kris Henthorn, Jim Coffman, Angel Calvert McKenna, Mac Gilkerson.

Community members and business owners began asking that question and came up with Next Stop, Beech Grove. The organization officially became an Indiana Main Street organization through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the 120th community to join, on Oct. 25. Its members have been at work ever since, planning and preparing to make Beech Grove’s Main Street a more bustling area.

“Our mission statement is Next Stop, Beech Grove strives to revitalize and promote our community’s cultural history while encouraging growth, historic preservation and sustainability,” said Angel Calvert McKenna, who is also facility manager for the Hornet Park Community Center. “Everything we’re doing is with that in mind.”

Since October, Next Stop has hired a grant writer, Mike Kleinpeter. The organization, which has filed and awaiting approval of 501c3 status, is currently looking into obtaining a planning grant. After that, they will apply for a facade grant to redevelop storefronts and replace facades that are crumbling.

“The city has done a lot the last few years years to improve our Main Street,” said Jim Coffman, owner of Eckstein Shoe Store. “They worked on the sewer. They worked on the flooding issues. As business owners, as citizens of Beech Grove, we came to the conclusion that we need to step up and do our part as well. (On April 3) the council passed a resolution declaring us a blighted area to help us get funding down the road. They have agreed to help with funding. They are big supporters of our Main Street and I think they will continue to be. It’s important that we all work together because we all have the same goal down the line. With a bustling main street comes additional jobs, additional events, additional revenue.

Of the 10 blocks of buildings that are outlined for Beech Grove’s Main Street, there are an estimated 114 buildings or storefronts. Twenty-five of those are empty, with 88 businesses operating on Main Street.

“Now would be a great time for a businesses that is looking to relocate or open a new location, to get in early on Main Street in Beech Grove,” said Kris Henthorn, Next Stop’s president and owner of Henthorn Agency, Inc. “When this starts coming together, it will create a lot of opportunity.

Next Stop is currently accepting requests for quotes from engineers and architectural firms for the revitalization plan, through May 15. A public hearing is set for May 1, 7 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the funding and offer the opportunity to ask questions.

Next Stop will submit the planning grant application in June. The selected engineer/architect will be working with the City, NSBG, and business owners from approximately September 2017 to February 2018, stated Kleinpeter.

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