Josh Staten

Josh Staten

NEW ALBANY — A standalone restaurant building and a structure that will include retail space and a Panera Bread are slated for construction in New Albany.

As an incentive for the new developments, the New Albany Redevelopment Commission agreed Tuesday to foot an estimated $300,000 in roadway improvements on State Street.

The new developments are planned for a property near the Verizon Wireless store off State Street. The area is across the street from the Kroger gas station, and the city intends to construct a traffic signal and make improvements at that intersection.

“This is structured in a way that incentivizes a good development there,” New Albany Redevelopment Director Josh Staten said.

Construction could begin later this year, and a group called Wildcat LLC requested the intersection work as part of the development. Officials said a deal for a restaurant to occupy the standalone building is expected to be finalized soon, but no business names were divulged.

In addition to Panera, the second building will have retail space for another tenant.

While commission members expressed their excitement over the new developments, they also stressed that traffic is a concern. State Street is one of the busiest city roads in Southern Indiana, and the city is already undertaking some efforts to attempt to improve traffic flow.

City Engineer Larry Summers said a traffic study focused on the impact of the new developments didn't indicate expectations of a major change.

“As part of this traffic study that the developer did for this particular location, basically the additional traffic that's generated for this would only contribute 1 to 2 seconds delay on the corridor,” Summers said.

Town Clock Place update

Developer Chad Sprigler had initially hoped to salvage one of the buildings adjacent to Town Clock Church as part of his apartment and retail project.

But following multiple inspections, Sprigler told the commission that the former Mobile Home Service & Supply building will have to come down due to its condition.

In March, the commission agreed to partner with Sprigler and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County for the Town Clock Place development. It will bring 11 residential units to East Main Street along with retail space and a potential staging and storage area for the historic Town Clock Church.

A house adjacent to the site has already been razed, which was part of the initial plan. Sprigler had hoped to restore the former retail building and use it as one of two structures for the new development.

Instead, the development will feature one building, though it will be larger than originally designed to accommodate for some of the space lost with tearing down the other structure.

Sprigler and city officials said multiple inspections were conducted with structural experts including historic preservation officials. They were in agreement that the building can't be redeveloped and needs to be razed, Sprigler and Staten said.

The commission approved the change in the agreement. The body agreed to contribute $75,000 toward facade improvements and demolition costs in March, and Staten said Tuesday's action didn't change the other facets of the deal.

Sprigler said the adjustment will actually put the staging area, which can be used for tour groups visiting Town Clock Church, closer to the former link in the Underground Railroad. The new plan will also provide for more retail space, he continued.

“In the long run, it's going to be a better project,” he said. “We hated that we had to go this route, but unfortunately, that's the way it is.”

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