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March 27, 2013

Arts incubator moves forward in Jeffersonville

Recommendation will now go before the city council

JEFFERSONVILLE — Plans to locate an artists incubator and gallery in downtown Jeffersonville off Michigan Avenue cleared another hurdle Tuesday night.

The Jeffersonville Plan Commission approved zoning changes for 628 Michigan Ave. and 200 W. 8th Street from medium-to-large commercial, C2, to downtown commercial, DC.

With the zoning change, the city will move forward on its plan to locate an arts incubator in the former Gray and Wells building along Michigan Avenue, and the 8th Street property — a former sign company — would be used as a gallery space, said Jeffersonville Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz.

The planning commission has previously presented plans to turn the properties, along with the former Bales Auto site on Spring Street, into an arts and cultural district for downtown Jeffersonville. The commission has already moved forward on plans to move the Clark County Museum to a site along Michigan Avenue.

But along the way there has been opposition to the concept, and it continued Tuesday night.

Councilman Mike Smith, District 1 representative where the buildings are located, said he was against the change. Smith explained the city paid $1.4 million for the Gray and Wells property and $137,000 for 8th Street site.

“That’s how much money we have invested of tax payer dollars in these buildings,” he said. “This is a flooding area. These businesses were paying taxes to the city and they were paying taxes in the TIF (Tax Increment Finance) districts.” 

He added if the museum property were included in the price tag, the city had paid about $2.4 million for the properties. The properties were purchased by the previous administration to make way for a canal planned project that was design to mitigate flooding and spur economic development.

Nearby resident Fred Collins also voiced his objections to the zoning change and said the infrastructure in the area needs to be addressed first.

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