CHARLESTOWN — Alan Muncy can see a future for Charlestown, one that resembles the hustle and bustle the town experienced during the time the ammunition plant was fueling war efforts overseas.
The president of arc envisions more businesses and housing filling vacant lots and abandoned buildings being revitalized to serve new uses.
That is why he is wanting to be the first to invest his efforts toward that change, by having his company design Renaissance Park, a building that will house approximately 40 apartments as well as retail space.
"It's going to set the direction for the rest of the redevelopment of Charlestown," Muncy said just prior to the groundbreaking of the project Tuesday. "I could see Charlestown coming alive, like it was back in the time of the ammunition plant. Now the ammunition plant is River Ridge and it is growing. It begs to ask the question, what is going to happen to Charlestown with all that growth?"
Kent Wingham is the owner and developer of a former restaurant next door to the Renaissance site, which is at 760 Main St. He said he is going to create a new facade and remodel the building to hopefully house a bistro in the future, which will lease the property from him. He said he hopes the new Renaissance Park will help fill a new restaurant with customers.
Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall said that is just part of the growth he sees coming from this addition.
"This is the largest, single project done in downtown Charlestown," Hall said. "I've always said Charlestown is going to grow. What's more important is what are we going to grow into?"
Hall said he is being careful with zoning to make sure Charlestown's growth goes in the desired direction. Matt Hall, executive vice president of One Southern Indiana, said he is seeing the path the downtown is headed.
"All our downtowns in Southern Indiana have been going through a rebirth. We are seeing renewed interest in our downtowns and investments in downtowns," Matt Hall said. "People do not invest in communities that are not growing. They invest in communities where they see opportunities and growth potential."
State Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown, said that growth will help many, even beyond the city's lines.
"It's not just going to benefit the city of Charlestown," Garten said. "It's a ripple effect. That investment will continue to spur reinvestment and that's going to spread east and west."
The groundbreaking marked the beginning of construction of the new multi-use building. Renaissance Park is expected to be complete by summer 2020. The park is part of the city's comprehensive renewal plan, which was passed in 2016. Bob Hall said more changes and announcements about how that plan is coming into fruition are expected in the coming months.