LOOKING GOOD: Downtown Greenfield benefits from more than $1 million in facade work

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More than $1 million of facade work is being done to five downtown Greenfield buildings, in a collaboration between the city, the building owners and Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Contractors were hard at work on the Bradley Hall events center at 2 W. Main St. on Wednesday, July 20.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — While lane closures have plagued drivers in downtown Greenfield in recent weeks, city officials say the temporary inconvenience will lead to lasting improvements to several downtown buildings.

Five buildings are getting major upgrades to their facades, many of which date back to the late 1800s.

Greenfield city planner Joanie Fitzwater said the total upgrades cost upwards of $1 million — $1,050,739, to be exact.

Building owners and the city are chipping in more than $260,000 while nearly $800,000 is coming from federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds generated through Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).

The current projects are the second phase of major facade work to take place in downtown Greenfield in recent years.

In 2016, nearly $700,000 of work was done to 10 buildings downtown, thanks in part to a half million dollars in CDBG funds from OCRA.

In both 2016 and 2022, building owners and the city of Greenfield have chipped in to help cover the costs.

Six years ago, building owners contributed over $108,000, the city contributed $80,000, and a philanthropic match was made for nearly $11,000 to supplement OCRA’s $500,000 grant.

“With OCRA’s help, we’ve put almost $2 million into facade restoration downtown” over the past six years, said Fitzwater, who has been working with the state agency as well as building owners to facilitate the work.

“Between the two facade projects we have undertaken in the last six years, we have invested $1,749,792 into 15 historic facades in the downtown. None of this would be possible without them,” she said.

Fitzwater said the enhancements have made a visible impact on downtown buildings, whose historic architecture is what draws so many to the downtown.

Stellar undertaking

Of all of this year’s facade projects, the biggest is taking place at the Bradley Hall events center at 2 W. Main St., on the northwest corner of State and Main streets.

Fitzwater said scaffolding and lane closures have been necessary for contractors to reach the top floor of the three-story building, as they work to repair mortar joints, install new guttering and remove staining from a copper awning.

The work done to the top of the building should wrap up by the end of this month, she said, when work is redirected to the first floor.

“A company called RestoreWork is in charge of the Bradley center work and they’re doing a great job. I’m really pleased with their work,” said Fitzwater.

Major improvements are also underway just across the street from the events center at the H.B. Thayer building at 13 N. State St.

Building owner Tom Marten is using his own company — Marten Construction Management — to install windows and a new storefront on the west side of the structure, which sits on the northeast corner of State and Main streets.

Fitzwater said Marten is also restoring decorative tile at the top of the building and adding a new entryway and lighting across the front. The enhancements will switch out the previous 1960s type of restoration that was done decades ago, which she said will bring the building more in line with the look the architect had originally intended.

“We found old drawings that bring it back closer to what the architect had originally envisioned for the building,” said Fitzwater, who has been the city’s lead planner since 2009.

“This is the second building on the east side we’ve been able to open up with windows. It really changes the feel of walking or driving into downtown Greenfield, and makes it much more inviting.”

The Italianate-style building, which houses Revolution salon and the law offices of Wooten & Hoy, plays a big part in the goals set forth by the city’s 2013 Revitalization Plan.

Fitzwater said part of the plan called for opening up the corridor along State Street leading into downtown from the north. Part of that is being achieved in part by adding windows and a new storefront to the H.B. Thayer Building, which had been walled off by brick over the years.

Elsewhere downtown, Greenfield Christian Church at 23 N. East St. is having stained glass windows restored.

The Greater Greenfield Chamber of Commerce building, at 1 Courthouse Plaza, is getting tuck-pointing done as well as repair work to gutters and roof lines that have been causing leaking issues for years.

Just down the street at 9 American Legion Plaza, the building that houses Sonicu offices is having mortar repair work done and new windows installed.

“We’ve heard that the building’s third floor was demolished by a tornado years ago and the third floor was just walled up, so we’re bringing the building back to its original look,” said Fitzwater. “We’re putting the windows back in and putting a brick facade on the third floor to match the rest of the building.”

Building owner and Sonicu CEO Nick Tuttle said the facade work has had its share of challenges and delays, but he’s looking forward to seeing the end results. “I am happy with the results thus far, but the construction is just starting on my building,” he said.

Stellar impact

Fitzwater said the current facade work being downtown is yet another step in updating and enhancing downtown buildings, which she said should make a striking difference in the downtown area for generations to come.

The state agency and local building owners have been tremendous partners in helping the city achieve its goal of enhancing and preserving the historic buildings downtown, she said.

Of the total $1.05 million in the current round of enhancements, OCRA provided CDBG funds totalling $785,700.

Building owners have contributed $139,092, while the City of Greenfield has chipped in $125,946.

Even the city’s matching contribution this year comes from OCRA’s Stellar Communities grant, which awarded Greenfield, Fortville and Hancock County a total of $15 million in 2018.

The Stellar funds were also used to create Greenfield’s new Depot Street Park and will be used to create the long-awaited Riley Literary Trail next year.

Fitzwater said she can’t wait for all the planned downtown enhancements to be complete, so the public can come check out the finished results for themselves. “It’s going to look fantastic,” she said.