New look, new life
A 2005 Ball State study was key to establishing the vision of what the River Race area could become.
“And residential was the major component of how people who participated in that process viewed the area developing,” said Goshen Community Development Director Mark Brinson. “That’s really where the direction for this development started
“It was really difficult for people to have a picture of what the area could be, and Ball State really helped create that vision,” he continued. “That really kind of became the magnet for drawing attention to the area and getting the whole process started.”
The River Race corridor consists of around 22 acres starting with the former Northern Indiana Public Service Co. property behind Interra Credit Union. It extends along the west side of the millrace basically down to Shanklin Park, and encompasses the former Goshen Street Department property. On the east side of the millrace, the corridor extends from the Hawks building south to Douglas Street.
The redevelopment area included nine different “brownfield” properties. For the curious, a brownfield is a former commercial or industrial property that may or may not have the potential for contamination.
Brinson said there was a long process of acquiring and then assessing the properties, “which means researching the history of what kind of activities were going on there.” Soil samples and groundwater testing were involved. Then there was clean-up/remediation work to be done.
Becky Hershberger, Goshen’s brownfield coordinator, said every dollar city officials spent during the redevelopment and remediation process was essentially matched with $4 from other funding sources.
“So we’ve done really well with leveraging the funds to make it possible,” she said. “... I think we’re the only community in Indiana that’s ever ventured to address this many properties at once.”
According to Brinson, the process had to be far enough along to convince a developer that enough obstacles had been removed to make property feasible to develop.
“It’s very difficult for a private developer to come and pay the cost associated with clean-up,” Hershberger said. “They have the option of going to some greenfield or uncontaminated property and having none of these hurdles, or taking a risk on this. We have the location on our side. They’re great spots to develop, but there’s a lot of hurdles.”
Two developers — Matthews LLC of South Bend and Richard Miller Construction Inc. of Goshen — see opportunity.