By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — They’ve taken the public’s comments. Now it’s time for some deliberation.
Goshen Redevelopment Commission members Tuesday opened the floor to the last wave of public comment related to two proposals on the table for the Goshen River Race Redevelopment project.
According to commission member Tom Stump, any further comment on the two proposed plans must be submitted to the Redevelopment Commission in writing before the commission’s upcoming June 11 meeting, at which time a decision will likely be made on which of the two proposals, if any, the commission will approve.
The River Race Redevelopment represents a huge, multi-faceted redevelopment project that includes areas along the millrace such as the old Northern Indiana Public Service Co. building and the old Hawks building.
The “Millrace Neighborhood” is being championed by Goshen residents Mary Meyer and Richard
Miller with the assistance of Alan Ediger, senior designer with Interface Architecture and Design of Goshen.
The concept draws primarily from the idea of “cohousing”, a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. The concept keeps the proposed homes smaller and has a design that meshes with the overall feel of the surrounding area. Homes in a cohousing environment contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, walking paths and playgrounds.
Also up for consideration is a proposal by David Matthews of South Bend-based Matthews LLC referred to as “Millrace Townhomes and Flats”.
Matthews’ proposal focuses more on a townhouse style of construction along the millrace. While the Matthews plan offers a number of different size and cost options for the proposed homes, the overall look of the plan utilizes a long, block-type construction with rows of three-story townhomes at an average height of about 44 feet. The plan also calls for little to no waterfront property and instead dedicates a majority of the waterfront to community green space.
Among those speaking in favor of the Millrace Neighborhood proposal Tuesday afternoon was Goshen resident Ann Kauffman.
“Goshen’s human scale and preservation of neighborhoods are critical issues for the River Race Residential Redevelopment Project,” Kauffman said. “With these values in mind, the Matthews team proposal does not fit the location. At 44 feet high, their row of three story townhouses would be 11 feet taller than the Hawks Building, and it would stretch more than four times as long for two blocks. This would create a towering wall that would negatively impact and be incongruent with the Shanklin Park Millrace neighborhood.”
Also speaking in favor of the Miller plan was Goshen resident Maynard Kurtz.
“This proposal respects the architecture and the population density of the existing neighborhood,” Kurtz said. “While this development does have some unique features, it still feels like it would be an extension of the current Shanklin Millrace Neighborhood, not a discrete entity.”
Like Kauffman, Kurtz said he feels the Matthews proposal is disjunctive with the existing neighborhood both due to its proposed physical size and population density.
“The size of the townhouses would not complement the current housing nearby,” Kurtz said. “They would be a visual barrier to the millrace for those of us who live there. The buildings themselves feel like huge, physical barriers.”
Among those speaking in favor of the Matthews plan was Goshen resident Kim Rife, who noted that she includes herself among those who would love to live along the canal in one of the townhomes proposed by Matthews.
“I think you’ve got a really unique sort of situation there,” Rife said. “His homes look beautiful, and the elevation of them will certainly take advantage of that location. I think it would be beneficial for the city to have something different than what we have now. I think this would be a benefit to us as far as housing, as far as something a little different, and as far as a tax base for the city.
Mayor Allan Kauffman, while not specifically endorsing the Matthews plan, made the case that such a plan would likely be better for the economic future of Goshen.
“I hope that the Redevelopment Commission doesn’t dismiss the Matthews plan,” Kauffman said. “We have to think in these days of tax caps about how we maximize the value of the properties in Goshen that we’re rebuilding, and I think the Matthews plan is going to add more value to the development than the Miller plan. I think that needs to be a concern as we talk about maintaining our assessed value, bringing up our assessed value and reducing the impact of the tax caps in the future. If there’s a way that both developers can work together, if there’s a way both concepts can work, fine. I just don’t want to see the townhouse concept dismissed entirely.”