Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

September 16, 2012

Bricks should not bring down HawksBuilding project

Last week Goshen’s very busy Redevelopment Commission met and discussed the progress at the Hawks Building along the millrace. The news wasn’t ideal. As you remember, LaCasa Inc. has a purchase agreement with the city of Goshen to buy the former furniture factory and remodel it into apartments for local artisans with the potential of some mix-used retail space.

The building has been vacant for decades and LaCasa plans to purchase the building from the city for $162,664 and invest millions of dollars into the remodeling, much of the investment coming from federal grants. But, the sale is about a year away from finalization while work at the Hawks Building continues in anticipation of remodeling.

The overall plan calls for the demolition of selected non-historic additions to the Hawks building. Community Development Director Mark Brinson has pointed out that some brick replacement is required in sections of the original structure before demolition can take place. The purchase agreement puts the city on the hook for the selected demolition.

Brinson first brought the brick concerns to the commission’s attention back in July, stating that the type of brick used was deteriorating rapidly and could cause a collapse during the demolition. That’s a pretty serious assertion. He reiterated the concern this past Tuesday.

“I’m beginning to wonder about the wisdom of our original vote (to approve the sale),” Commission Member Vince Turner said Tuesday.

We believe in the concept that is being pursued at The Hawks Building. Affordable housing in a unique, re-purposed structure in an ideal central location has the potential to add even more vibrancy to our downtown area. It’s a targeted market that may not traditionally appeal to everyone, but still has great potential for success.

With that said, there is also potential for financial failure if the price tag for the Hawks Building concept continues to climb a nickel here and a dime there. That’s the risk that is assumed with investment into historic structures. While the brick issue does raise an eyebrow with this project, it shouldn’t spark an outright panic. Brinson estimated the cost of the brick replacement between $5,000 and $10,000. The commission eventually signed off on as much as $12,000 for the repairs.

We still feel this is a worthwhile project that, when completed, will benefit our city and serve as an anchor to future River Race development.

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