News and Tribune

August 7, 2013

Mixed-use development planned for former school building in Jeffersonville

Officials want due diligence done before project moves forward


JEFFERSONVILLE — A mixed-use development of condominiums and retail space is in the works at Rose Hill Residences.

The building, 301 W. Maple St., was sold last week to a private Jeffersonville developer that has not been named. But plans for the approximately 30,000-square-foot former school house are for retail businesses to locate on the first floor with condominiums above.

Apartments and a catering business are currently located at the site.

An agreement to sell the building was reached but it has yet to be finalized. The deal to sell the property was agreed to, in part, because the estate of the former owner said it was too much to handle on a day-to-day basis.

“It just wasn’t manageable and possible to keep it open every day,” said Shelly Storch, one of the owners of the property. Rose Hill Residences was formerly owned by Richard E. Foster, according to Clark County property records. Foster died in February and the property was part of the estate passed along to his children. Storch is Foster’s daughter.

She said that her father was at the apartment building on a regular basis for the last 15 years and, along with an on-site manager who was in charge of the rentals, helped manage the property.

“There was no one there on a regular basis, it was getting to the point where it was cost-prohibitive to keep it going,” Storch said. “The property is not going to be used as it is, it’s going to be used as condominiums and retail.”

She said the city wanted to do something with that property and a local Jeffersonville developer agreed to purchase the building and redevelop it. She declined to name the developer.

With the sale of Rose Hill Commons, about 40 residents are being evicted from the site. An employee at Chardeau’s Catering that did not wish to be named, which is also located on the site, is unsure if the business will remain at the location in the future.

But in order for the renovations to take place, a notice of eviction was given to those located in the building. The residents, who rent on a week-to-week basis, were served with a 30-day notice to vacate and must be out of the building by Sept. 1.

“We are trying to relocate as many as we can to another property we have,” Storch said of the tenants.

Paul Stensrud, founder of Jesus Cares at Exit 0, said the removal of the 40 men that live at the property is going to add to an already tenuous homeless situation in the area.

“There’s no housing for $300 a month around here,” he said.

He added the evictions could force those who are just able to make ends meet into a situation where they end up back on the street.

The site and its development tie directly into Mayor Mike Moore’s plan for the surrounding properties. Big Four Station, a two-block park, has been planned near the foot of the Big Four Bridge. Nearby Colston Park has been a target for development by Moore, who held a press conference in June to announce his plan to construct brownstones and retail development on the city park.

Several hurdles exist before the development of the park could begin, including conducting a study to determine the boundaries of a Civil War era cemetery on-site. Before the Jeffersonville Parks Authority, which owns Colston Park, is willing to deed the property over to the Redevelopment Commission, it wants to know what, if anything, can be built there.

Parks Authority President Ed Zastawny said the board, which is comprised of the members of the City Council, recently gave the redevelopment commission permission to move forward with conducting studies on that property to determine the cemetery’s boundaries.

“I understand its a good location, but I understand there’s uncertainty about the property,” he said. “I think the due diligence needs to be done before we get too excited about it. If at the end we can have a good, big project there, I’m all for it.”

Moore said the development would not need a lot of land and would be surrounded by parks on either side.

“This is going to be very attractive for retail and residential,” he said. “The plan that I presented is going to need some city council assistance. I’ve got a developer that wants to build a multimillion dollar facility down there. They need Playsquare Park (Colston Park) to make the plan work.”

But to develop Colston Park and have the parks authority hand it over, Zastawny said the proper channels need to be followed. Once that happens then the parks authority will talk about deeding it to the redevelopment commission for something of value.

“I think it comes down to what can be built on it,” he said. “What I don’t want to do is give redevelopment park land and then have nothing happen. Let it continue to be a park until we know it can be used as something else. I would just want to know what the result of the study is and what the planned use is. Condos and retail would be a great use. I think condos would work because you bring disposable income to downtown Jeffersonville.”

For the time being Zastawny said plans for the park are to use it for a secondary site for soccer games while the Woehrle Youth Complex is under construction.