Pendleton turns to past to revitalize its downtown

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Pendleton's downtown commercial district is looking to the past to build a better, more prosperous future.

In September, the town 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis was approved for the state's branch of Main Street, a project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, aimed at helping communities revitalize their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

Pendleton's downtown commercial district covers roughly 12 blocks around the intersection of State Street and Pendleton Avenue, bordered by Water Street to the north, Elm Street to the south, Main Street to the west and Broadway to the east.

Many of those structures "are unique physical expressions of our culture, history and the people who built our town," board member and Ball State architectural archivist Carol Street told The Herald Bulletin. "They offer a unique heritage that could only take place here in Pendleton."

That's one reason the town was a natural fit for the Main Street program, said Lisa Floyd, board secretary and executive director of the South Madison Community Foundation.

"Our hope and expectation is that it will add another dimension of the hometown feeling we already have in Pendleton," Floyd said. "Our goal is to simply build on the attributes that are already in place and expand the opportunities for residents and visitors to experience our downtown opportunities."

That would likely include preservation projects for many of the downtown historic structures. Much of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"There is an emphasis on preserving those buildings as close to their original designs because they are well-designed, lovely buildings," Street said.

But a revitalized downtown could also "attract more business activity and perhaps more residential dwellers to available spaces in the downtown area," said Main Street Pendleton board president Jack Wilson.

Indiana Main Street communities saw more than $130 million invested last year, and netted 570 new jobs and 16 new construction projects.

The Main Street approach is four-pronged: Communities organize commercial district stake-holders, promote, design and restructure the downtown economy by strengthening existing businesses and recruiting new ones.

For most Indiana Main Street communities, that's also meant rehabilitating the facades of standing buildings — 241 in 2011 — with fresh paint, repaired molding and other upgrades.

Many projects, like new awnings, could be done for very little money, said Tim McClintick, the town's assistant planning director and Main Street Pendleton board treasurer.

But "we're not here to mandate anything," he said. This doesn't affect downtown residences and business owners can opt out, if they want.

The towns in the program are responsible for managing, planning and funding. McClintick said the first step will be applying for grants, which Wilson said could range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $250,000.

"We believe that Pendleton is well suited to take advantage of these resources to build on the ambiance we already enjoy," Wilson said. "And hopefully help the community benefit from increased business activity."

McClintick said there's no date yet on when the first project would start, but he'd like to see something by spring.

"It's a gradual process," he said. "It's evolving."


    Five generations of my family called Pendleton their home. Pendletons' heartbeat always focusing on the homefront. Pendleton community with its vast resources draws many a diverse sector of the population. Pendleton has a moment in a lifetime opportunity to take advantage with the expert leadership of Ball State Architectual Facade students & archivist. Ball State Architectual Program came as a blessing to Noblesvilles Downtown Our Community, Chamber worked deligently to assist the Facade which completely revitilized the square. Pendletons' past will reinvent Pendleton's most exciting future.. GREAT NEWS!!!!
  • I love Pendleton
    My wife and I moved to Pendleton a couple years ago as renters. Since that time we have falling in love with the town and because of things like things we just bought a house here and plan on staying for a very long time.

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.