By BRADEN LAMMERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — Homes that are scheduled to be relocated as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project have a potential destination.
As part of a settlement agreement between the National Trust for Historic Preservation, conservancy group River Fields Inc., the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation, $1.7 million has been dedicated to a historic preservation and enhancement fund. The relocation of five homes in Jeffersonville slated to be torn down to make way for Big Four Station and the new Interstate 65 bridge were given priority consideration for the funding.
In addition to the five homes, Greg Sekula, director of the Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Office, identified three additional properties he would like to see included in the relocation project. And Sekula and the city’s redevelopment office have a potential site.
“There’s an opportunity here to save these buildings, to move them to alternative sites,” he said. “Ideally ... the idea is to try and move them within the boundaries of the old Jeff Historic District.”
The location identified by the city and historic landmarks would sit at the 200 block of Maple Street, facing the north entrance to the Big Four Station — a park planned at the landing of the Big Four pedestrian and bicycle bridge.
Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz said there is potential to locate three to five homes along Maple Street, where there is currently a vacant parking lot and land behind the former American Legion building.
The homes being considered for relocation are located at 216, 218 and 222 Market St., and 227 and 229 Pearl St., Sekula said. The additional homes he identified were the Prentice houses located at 340 W. Maple St. and 338 Ohio Ave., and another home at 113 Fort St.
Of the homes that could potentially be relocated to the 200 block of Maple Street, Sekula said he would like the preservation and enhancement fund to pay for relocating the structures, pouring new foundations and running utility lines to the homes. Part of the proposal would then call for the city to turn around and sell the properties after they are moved and possibly offset some of the original acquisition costs Jeffersonville incurred to buy the homes, he said.
Waiz asked the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission for an approval to relocate the homes along Maple Street with the expectation of which homes, and how many, would be moved to the site to be determined at a later date.
However, a conversation and resolution passed that preceded the proposal kept the redevelopment commission from moving forward on a vote.
“We have just adopted a resolution to go for national [requests for proposal] — this is right in the middle of it,” said Redevelopment Commissioner Jack Vissing. “I think this all needs to be weighed together.”
NATIONAL REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL
Before the relocation of the homes in Jeffersonville’s historic district were discussed, the redevelopment commission discussed what to do with the properties acquired by the city in preparation for the previously proposed canal project.
The properties were purchased under former Mayor Tom Galligan’s administration.
During Wednesday’s redevelopment meeting Mayor Mike Moore discussed what should be done with the property, leaving the door open for private developers to decide.
“We’ve got some extremely valuable property,” he said. “We’re within eyesight of crossing over the bridge into Louisville, we’ve got a vast amount of land. It’s an opportunity there. If somebody’s got the money and they want to make the investment, they want to generate some tax dollars, I’d love to put it out there and say, ‘Here’s an open canvas, what can you do with it?’ My opposition to the canal was the cost of it to the taxpayer. I’m open to anything as long as we’re looking at private dollars being spent instead of public dollars being spent.”
It was offered that the city should put out a national request for proposal on what to do with the downtown properties.
“It’s a great opportunity because the city controls so much property right now,” said Redevelopment Commissioner James Lake.
Redevelopment Commission Attorney Les Merkley said it would be a two-step process to issue the request for proposal. The city would first have to identify properties that would be included in the potential proposal, before drafting and putting out the RFP.
The redevelopment commission agreed to meet in a workshop to discuss issuing the RFP, which has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the mayor’s conference room at Jeffersonville City Hall, 500 Quartermaster Court.