Redevelopment in the planning

Next Stop Beech Grove informs and educates community about planning study funded by OCRA grant

What does Beech Grove Main Street actually need to spark redevelopment?

Next Stop Beech Grove has received a $40,000 grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to study what Beech Grove is lacking, what it does well and what can be improved.

Next Stop held a public information meeting on Nov. 14 to not only share details of what this study will entail, but get opinions from Main Street business owners.

“There are a lot of ways we’ve tried revitalization in the past, but it’s never focused on the business owners themselves,” said Jim Coffman, Next Stop treasurer. “It can’t be done by one person, a handful of people or the government itself. It needs to be done by a large group of people. The more we can get behind the cause, the more good that will happen.”

Taking part in the Nov. 14 presentation, from left, Nola Albrecht, director of landscape architecture for Shresberry & Associates; Doug Decker, Senior Landscape Architect at Shrewsberry & Associates; Pat Jacobs, principal at ARCHitecture trio; and Jim Coffman, Next Stop Beech Grove treasurer. *Photo by Nicole Davis

Representatives from the Strategic Development Group, Shrewsburry & Associates, LLC and ARCHitecture trio, Inc. joined the Nov. 14 meeting to give a presentation on the potential of Beech Grove and what other communities have been able to do through this study. Pat Jacobs of ARCHitecture trio said to the crowd that a facade study may be the next step in the project. An MSRP Facade Grant could award $500,000 to $600,000 in a matching grant to upgrade the facades of businesses on Main Street. She also said that Next Stop should look into becoming a National Register Historic District.

“I think there’s really unique potential in Beech Grove to look at your Main Street as a National Register District with the character defined from possibly the 1940s up to the 1960s,” Jacobs said. “Buildings that are 50 years old or older, qualify. I think that is something we should investigate… What that does, is it not only opens up potential for other funding, tax credits in particular but also gives you an opportunity for marketing that you have this historic collection of buildings. It’s a tourism attraction.”

Speakers also touched on streetscape, infrastructure, design and economic development. After the presentation, the audience was asked to share their concerns or what they would like to see happen through this project. Many business owners expressed concerns on the lack of participation from absentee landowners.

“I suspect there are several business owners along Main Street that will be excited to participate, but that 20 percent match might be prohibitive,” said Brian Seyfert, State Farm, at the meeting. “Say a building needs $40,000 worth of work, the building owner wants to participate but can’t do the 20 percent down.”

Coffman shared that there would be other ways to obtain those funds, an option that can be discussed down the road.

Scott Burgins, senior project manager with Strategic Development Group, expressed a much different concern.

“We see a lot more potential in Beech Grove than a lot of the other communities we’re involved with,” Burgins said. “My fear was, it may go faster than you’re comfortable with…. I don’t know, one year, two years, but it won’t be long.”

The planning study is expected to be complete in the spring of 2018.