Charlestown Considering ‘Live, Work, Play’ Development Meant to Revitalize Downtown
September 10, 2018
By – Danielle Gory, News and Tribune
CHARLESTOWN — It’s a project meant to help downtown Charlestown return to the glory of its ammunition plant days: a $6 million or more “live, work, play” development at Market and Main streets.
The concept is fittingly named the Renaissance Project, and it’s been a part of the City of Charlestown’s plans since the comprehensive plan was passed in 2016, Mayor Bob Hall said.
The city originally issued a request for proposals for the project three months ago, but received no response. That allowed the city to reach out to developers on its own, one of which was arc, a commercial and industrial construction management company, which already has several projects in Jeffersonville and New Albany, including 20 to 24 apartments being built now in Colston Park.
On Tuesday night, arc presented its idea for the project at a Charlestown City Council meeting where it was met with praise from council members and Hall.
The project’s $4 million to $4.5 million first phase would include a building with 42 mostly two-bedroom apartments with a private courtyard and two to three spaces for retail businesses on the bottom. A regional coffee chain is already interested in inhabiting one of the commercial spaces.
The second phase, which could cost $2 million to $2.5 million would include two 2,000-square foot retail buildings and possibly another 12-unit residential building.
The commercial and residential concept would be a private-public partnership. The City of Charlestown owns the land at Main and Market streets across the road from Cooper Drugs, which it’s slowly acquired over the past year to year and a half, according to Hall.
It’s not decided yet how the city would help arc pay for building and managing their multi-million dollar project, but Hall said that the city is capable of granting several things to the developer, including the conveyance of its land for minimal fees and help with utility and construction fees.
Hall hopes to work out the details of the partnership between the city and arc within the next week and a half. Arc will have to present the project to the Charlestown Redevelopment Commission, plan commission and city council before the plans head back to the redevelopment commission for final approval.
If everything goes according to plan, arc could start construction on the project as early as the beginning of 2019.
The Renaissance Project is inspired by a desire of the city’s to revitalize Charlestown’s downtown. When the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant was functioning at its height during World War II, the city’s businesses were swarming with employees and their families. After the end of the Vietnam War in the 1970s, Charlestown was left in the dust, or rather, the powder — a phenomenon that Hall compares to the desolation that coal towns felt when the mines went bust.
Now, a boom for Charlestown is on the horizon again thanks to the River Ridge Commerce Center, which is slowly expanding toward the city. The Jeffersonville side of the business and industrial park is well on its way to build-out, which Alan Muncy, the president of arc, has seen affect the need for housing all across Southern Indiana.
“I really think that Charlestown is a place that people are going to want to live,” he said. “It’s a place that allows for growth and opportunity, and I think if we build it, the need’s there.”
Hall said he hopes the Renaissance Project serves as a template for the rest of downtown Charlestown’s revitalization, which already includes a soon-to-open dog park and police station.
Danielle Grady is the business and economic development reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 812-206-2137. Follow her on Twitter: @dgrady1222.