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Irvington groups save landmark from demolition

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Two not-for-profits serving the Irvington neighborhood have purchased a derelict, century-old building with intentions of restoring it and selling it as a commercial property.

The Irvington Development Organization and Irvington Historical Society on Friday closed on the purchase of a two-story, 2,400-square-foot property at the corner of Washington Street and Ritter Avenue.

Built as a post office in 1903, the building at 5502 E. Washington St. anchored Irvington's former commercial hub. It has been vacant since about 1997.

The previous owner’s estimates of up to $500,000 in repairs did not justify keeping the building intact, so an attorney in February filed a petition for demolition with the Historic Preservation Commission.

Margaret Banning, director of the Irvington Development Organization, said the IDO convinced the commission to hold off on a decision long enough for the sale to go through.

“This is a key building for our neighborhood. You can’t have that intersection be a blank parking lot,” Banning said.

The IDO and the Irvington Historical Society formed the Irvington Post Office LLC and obtained a $110,000 loan from Citizens Energy Group’s community development program. That gave the partnership enough money to buy the building with a little money left over to acquire adjoining property for a parking lot.

Banning said the Irvington not-for-profits forecast about $400,000 more in roof repairs and exterior restoration.

The partnership is trying to secure another $100,000 from the Local Initiatives Support Corp., which is expected to make a decision by late January or early February, Banning said.

The organizations are also seeking several grants for smaller amounts from agencies such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

Banning said the groups are hoping to secure all grants by June, letting them quickly finish the work and sell the building. It would be ideal for a professional services firm, she said.
 

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