Now’s the time to go big.
As Kendallville moves aggressively ahead designing the scope of facade work it plans to tackle with the $2 million PreservINg Main Street grant it won from the state, the city should prioritize the biggest, most aggressive projects.
It was good to see dozens of building owners taking part in Monday’s discussion at the chamber office about the grant, asking lots of good questions about how they could take part.
The $2 million grant is big, but depending on interest in the grant, it might not be enough to cover all of the work that wants to be done.
While it might be disappointing for some building owners not to get a slice of the pie, such a scenario could arguably be a good development for the city.
If that sounds counterintuitive, consider it this way: Kendallville should utilize this grant to complete the biggest, most expensive, most radical transformations to buildings that need it most.
That should ultimately be done even if it means squeezing out some building owners who have more limited scopes of work.
The state wants to see and Kendallville needs to prioritize projects that would result in a before and after comparison that would make your jaw drop like it might watching a home renovation show on TV.
Total overhauls are going to be more expensive, which may mean fewer buildings get fixed overall. But we know the city is not quitting after this grant is over and there are avenues to work on those less intensive projects in the future.
Likewise, for building owners, this is an opportunity for them to think bigger. Think makeover as opposed to makeup.
The city is asking for matching funds of just 15%, which means owners can get about $6 of work for every $1 they spend out-of-pocket. It’s an opportunity to sit down with an architect, get creative and indulge in the ideal renovation, whatever that may look like.
That’s not to say the city can or will or even should do the wish list project for every building, but owners shouldn’t be afraid to put the full package on paper and see what happens.
At best, the response will be an excited, resounding “Yes!” At worst, a flat no, although we suspect the city would propose a scaled-back project to do at least something as opposed to doing nothing.
The goal of this grant is to get people excited, create “wow” factor and impress the state so it can show off Kendallville to other communities about how great its PreservINg Main Street program is.
While it could ultimately be hard to have to turn away any interested building owners for lack of funds, completing a few large-scale, dramatic renovations with this grant will accomplish the state’s goals better than spreading the wealth more widely and thinly for more homogenous, marginal gains.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Grace Housholder, Andy Barrand, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. We welcome readers’ comments.