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Not-for-profit to buy, develop grain elevator site in Noblesville

September 1, 2015

A Hamilton County not-for-profit plans to purchase a historic grain elevator in downtown Noblesville and redevelop it into a mixed-use project.

Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development Inc. announced Tuesday it has an agreement to buy the property from North Central Co-Op for fair market value, although HAND executive director Nate Lichti would not disclose the price.

“It’s not like it’s a bargain basement price,” Lichti said.

The 85-foot tall grain elevator was built in 1904 on Mulberry and 8th streets to store wheat before shipping it on the nearby railroad tracks.

The North Central Co-Op started demolition of the site last year, and HAND, the Noblesville Preservation Alliance and the Hamilton County Historical Society petitioned to stop the destruction and determine the best use for the property. An online petition on HAND’s website garnered more than 100 signatures.

HAND plans to preserve portions of the square wooden structure, including the historic beams and foundation, and build a mixed-use project with affordable and market rate housing. But not everything can be saved.

“We won’t be able to preserve the height,” Lichti said, citing problems with the condition of the grain elevator and the cost of trying to save it.

Lichti said he expects to have funding for the project secured within a year. In the meantime, the organization is working with local architects Darren Peterson of Peterson Architecture and John Dierdorf of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects to design a possible project.

The purchase agreement requires the co-op to finish demolishing parts of the building while saving as much of the wood as possible and leaving key pieces of the historic grain elevator in tact. Lichti said the work is expected to be complete by winter.

“I cannot provide any guarantees,” Lichti cautioned.

A neighborhood committee will meet with HAND monthly to discuss the project as it develops.

“As tourism and community development specialists, we always go by the goal of ‘great places to live are great places to visit and invest,'" said Brenda Myers, executive director of Hamilton County Tourism Inc., in a written statement. "This project is a perfect example of that mission,”

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