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Boone County / Hamilton County / Regional News

Redevelopment of historic grain elevator site could cost $12M

September 15, 2015

A Noblesville not-for-profit’s plans to redevelop a historic grain elevator site could face an uphill battle for funding and community support.

Nate Lichti, executive director of Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development Inc., told the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners on Monday the mixed-use project could cost $12 million, with a majority of the funding reliant on low-income housing tax credits from the state.

Lichti is also requesting a total of $475,000 from Hamilton County’s general fund and community development block grants, but the commissioners weren’t convinced county dollars should be used on what seems to be a city project. The commissioners tabled the request.

"I just don't see the county's involvement, honestly," Commissioner Christine Altman said.

The proposal includes 54 one- and two-bedroom apartments dedicated to affordable housing and 10,000-12,000 square feet for commercial retail. Lichti said ideal tenants would be millennials and the downtown workforce.

HAND announced Sept. 1 that it had reached an agreement with the North Central Co-Op to buy the property on Mulberry and 8th streets, where an 85-foot tall grain elevator for decades had been used to store wheat. Lichti told commissioners on Monday that HAND is paying $575,000 for the site.

HAND is also asking Noblesville for a $125,000 tax abatement, but the commissioners suggested the city contribute more funding.

Lichti said that "the affordable housing issues in the community are countywide issues." And he added, "City resources are limited.”

Lichti said HAND has to apply for the highly competitive low-income housing credits by the beginning of November. The not-for-profit is working with with Indianapolis-based TWG Development and Noblesville-based architect firms Peterson Architecture and Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects.

The North Central Co-Op started demolition of the structure, which was built in 1904, last year. HAND started a petition earlier this year with the Noblesville Preservation Alliance and the Hamilton County Historical Society to stop the destruction and determine the best use for the site. The online petition garnered more than 100 signatures.

In addition to the funding approvals still needed, local developer Rocky Shanehsaz is fighting against HAND’s proposal, arguing that it’s not a good location for affordable housing due to its lack of a nearby amenities including a grocery store and public transportation.

Shanehsaz told commissioners on Monday that he had been negotiating with the North Central Co-Op since 2004 and believed it would eventually sell the property to him. His latest proposal for the site includes an outdoor entertainment center, a high-end restaurant with seating for 400 people and a carousel-styled parking structure.

Shanehsaz also runs the adjacent Mill Top Banquet and Conference Center.

Lichti said he and Shanehsaz had been previously discussing possibilities for the site and they are continuing to meet “frequently” to reach a compromise.

“This is obviously always a work in progress,” Lichti said.

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