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Boone County / Hamilton County / Regional News

Group revives plans for $12M project at granary site in Noblesville

October 7, 2016

Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development is reviving plans for a $12 million mixed-use project at the old grain elevator site near downtown Noblesville.

The not-for-profit initially introduced the proposal last year, but progress stalled after the organization narrowly missed out on federal tax-credit funding announced in February that would have provided $1.5 million.Noblesville granary

The development could include 56 one- and two-bedroom affordable housing apartment units, a business incubator similar to Launch Fishers, and commercial space.

Jennifer Miller, the new executive director for HAND following Nate Lichti’s departure in April, said the group is applying for the tax credits again this year because the project was within a few points of being awarded the funding last time.

“Everybody I’ve talked to seems excited about the opportunity to try again,” Miller said.

The proposal is mostly unchanged, except for the absence of the site's old grain elevator. The North Central Co-Op, which owns the 2-acre property at Mulberry and Eighth streets, had already started demolition before the tax credit announcement, and since then, the site has been cleared.

HAND, which has an agreement in place with North Central Co-Op to purchase the property for $575,000, had been planning to preserve as much of the structure as possible as part of the redevelopment.Noblesville granary 2

The grain elevator was built in 1904 and had been used to store wheat for decades.

Miller said without the silos on the property, the development can include more than double the amount of commercial space. Initial plans had 4,300 square feet available, and now 9,200 square feet is earmarked.

Local developer Rocky Shanehsaz, who opposed the project from the beginning, told IBJ this week that he continues to have concerns about bringing more affordable housing to that area and would still like to purchase the property himself.

He said without the grain silos on the land, he doesn’t understand why HAND is still adamant about that particular property, and said he suggested several alternative locations to the organization.

Shanehsaz, who owns the adjacent Mill Top Banquet and Conference Center, would like to use the space to expand his business with a parking structure that could accommodate nearly 500 vehicles, a venue for outdoor weddings and fine-dining restaurant.

“Now we’re looking at bare land. There’s nothing to preserve,” Shanehsaz said. “They could do this project elsewhere. I cannot do this parking lot somewhere else.”

He spoke against the project at a Hamilton County Commissioners meeting last month, and the commissioners recommended HAND and Shanehsaz find a compromise between the projects.

Miller told IBJ that they looked into adding a parking facility to the development, but it wasn’t financial feasible because it would have cost about $30,000 per parking space.

Shanehsaz agreed that it was too expensive to construct a standard garage, which is why he has proposed building a carousel-styled vertical structure that costs about $4,800 per spot. The parking issue has not yet been resolved.

The commissioners also suggested the project include space for a countywide domestic violence shelter, which the county does not currently have.

Miller said those discussions are ongoing, and they are excited about the possibility of incorporating that use into the development.

HAND is requesting $225,000 in community development block grant funding from the county commissioners, who could vote on the proposal Monday.

Previously, HAND had also requested $250,000 from the county’s general fund, which the commissioners denied. Miller said they are not asking for general fund dollars this time.

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