Other than the election of officers the Warsaw Redevelopment Authority had no business on its agenda Wednesday, but City Planner Jeremy Skinner gave members an update on the Buffalo Street project.
George Clemens was elected president and Max Mock vice president. Also on the Authority is Steve Truman.
Authority members did not have to take the oath of office.
“We don’t need to do oaths because your terms expired Dec. 17. We organized last year and they’re three-year terms. We just checked that,” Mayor Joe Thallemer told the Authority.
He said the purpose of Wednesday’s meeting is that an organizational meeting is statutorily required every year after Jan. 15.
Skinner reminded the board the Authority was the liaison that created the bond issue for the Buffalo Street project. It gave its authority to the Board of Public Safety and Works to pay out those bonds.
“Obviously, we’re moving ahead with the Buffalo Street project. We’re in the design phase right now and we hope to go to bid early spring and start construction this year,” Skinner said.
Truman asked, “There’s still two to three houses to the north of the alley. Are we going to be able to get those?”
Skinner replied yes and they were all a part of the project, but there was still land acquisition to do.
“We’re hoping to package and present to the Regional Cities Authority for some funding for that this year and next,” Skinner said.
He said they’ve had a lot of conversations with the property owners and “we feel good with where we’re at” but land acquisition was still something that needed to get done.
Truman noted the Warsaw Redevelopment Authority has seen the renderings for the project. Thallemer asked Skinner to tell the board more about the Regional Cities monies that could potentially assist in the project.
In December, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors and Gov. Mike Pence approved plans to award $126 million for regional development plans in North Central, Northeast and Southwest Indiana. Kosciusko County is part of the Northeast region. The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership submitted to the state a list of 70 projects among its 11 counties worth $11.4 billion.
Subject to legislative approval of the transfer of additional funds raised through tax amnesty collections – only $84 million is in hand for the program – each of the three regions chosen will receive up to $42 million in state matching funds through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative to implement their plans.
The Northeast Regional Development Authority will be charged with allocating the monies the region receives.
Skinner Wednesday said the city was putting together a presentation now to give to the RDA.
“We have obviously quite a bit of city funds that we’re putting into this project. We have quite a bit of private funds, as well as some grant money that was given through the Gastoldi family for the total project, which includes the plaza down by the lake that will connect the park with the Buffalo Street with the downtown. The whole idea is connectivity,” Skinner said.
As a whole, he said the project is “really focusing on those connections and making sure we get those connections as well as high-density residential downtown.”
Part of the city’s application to the RDA hits on those “key notes” to try to get reinvestment into the downtown as well as try to market the city to those younger people.
Skinner said the project is the type of project that’s really appealing to the younger generation because it is a different type of housing. It’s seen as being downtown with activities.
“So that’s kind of our pitch to them and we’ll be putting our presentation together here in the next few weeks,” he said, hopefully resulting in additional funding from the RDA.
That funding source would help with the plaza design, construction and land acquisition. The funding for the infrastructure already is in place.
Skinner said the developer, Dave Matthews, really understands housing “beyond the average.” There will be a mixture of different types of housing – not just high- or low-end – and once the mixed-use building goes up there will be four different types of housing including condos, town homes, city homes and mews. Mews are smaller versions of town homes.
Asked about the boat ramp on Center Lake at the end of Buffalo Street, Skinner said the boat ramp will not stay where it’s at but there will be a boat ramp on Center Lake. He will have to find an alternative location for it with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Thallemer said the city was very excited to get rolling and plans are proceeding.
“I can’t wait. It’s going to be great,” he said.
(Story By The Times Union)