Linton praises downtown revitalization plan
The Linton City Council praised the efforts of a local businessman who underwrote the development of a Downtown Community Revitalization Plan Monday.
Linton developer Jeff Doris presented the proposal with area planner Stan Palma of Palma Architects, an Indianapolis firm which has guided other, similarly-sized cities in their renovations.
Palma nicknamed the plan "From C to Shining C" because its boundaries are a square bordered by C Streets on the north and south, and by 3rd Street on the east and 2nd Street on the west.
That boundary line, which Palma said was done for simplicity's sake, incorporates all of the city's historic district as well as a small portion of residential areas.
Ultimately, homeowners won't be affected by the proposal, Palma said.
However, part of the plan does call for repurposing old businesses downtown into new housing which would increase traffic in the business district and add to demand for commercial shops there.
In coming months, the council will consider the plan, with public comment sought. It may then be revised and adopted, and could assist in guiding civic improvements and seeking state and federal funds.
Because Doris paid the costs for the study, no taxpayer money was utilized for the work.
In the long term, Mayor Patti Jones said the downtown plan could also be used to establish a tax-increment financing (TIF) district which could capture a portion of property taxes to be used for infrastructure and utility improvements.
"That could be a great idea, but I think it's a long term idea," Palma said.
The proposal's draft will soon be available on www.lintonredevelopment.com, a website which is presently a placeholder.
Doris, of Linton Redevelopment LLC, has purchased several buildings on both sides of Main Street in the northern part of the business district, including the former Cine Theatre and the former City Hall and police station.
He's in the process of renovating several properties on Main Street's northwest side,
"We're a year into it, and I'm already tired," Doris said.
However, he won praise from Jones for his work.
"It already looks much better," she said, noting she's been given a tour of the work in progress and is very impressed. "I had the opportunity to go through some of the buildings, and even with just a short time between the two times I went through there's been a tremendous amount of difference. Hopefully, that effort will be contagious downtown."
City Clerk-Treasurer Jack Shelton concurred.
"What you've done already has made a big difference," he told Doris.
Successful cities and towns which have undergone renovations have generally done two things, Palma said. "First, they've leveraged Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) funds to improve a major highway which goes through their town," he said. "And then, they've leveraged Community Focus Fund money or historic site money for facade improvements" as well as greenery.
"You don't have to have all the buildings redone," said Palma, adding many of Linton's buildings are sound structurally.
Linton's also rare, Palma said, because nearly all those buildings have remained standing. Even those with interior problems such as the Cine Theatre still have strong steel structures, and could be revitalized.
"Linton had a tremendous coal boom once," Palma said. "And you've gotten some wonderful buildings because of that...What we're trying to do here is empower as many people downtown as we can."