Proposal submitted for historic Third Street home recently targeted for demolition

Goshen Redevelopment Commission members are reviewing a proposal for the purchase of this historic brick home, located at 401 S. Third St., and a connected property at 204 W. Madison St., after pulling back on a plan to demolish the connected properties.

GOSHEN — A proposal to purchase a historic South Third Street house recently targeted for demolition by the city, was offered by a Goshen City Council member Tuesday.

Goshen Redevelopment Commission members opened the only bid submitted in reply to a request for proposals for the house, located at 401 S. Third St. and 204 W. Madison St., that is currently owned by the commission.

The $237,000 purchase proposal was offered by Rethinking Buildings LLC, which is operated by Adam Scharf, a local small business owner and current council representative for District 5. The property consists of two houses that have been connected. The RFP also includes three nearby vacant lots at 405, 409 and 411 S. Third St.

Originally brought up as an item for consideration during the RDC’s May 14 meeting, the call for demolition essentially involved a desire by some on the commission to demolish the house, rather than make any substantial investments in the aging building, which in recent years has served as a rental property.

However, commission members ultimately ended up pulling back on that demolition plan after several community members, as well as the Goshen Historical Society, raised concerns that the home, built in the 1860s, may have historical significance for the city and thus warrant preservation.

During their June 11 meeting, commission members agreed to table the item for 90 days to allow time for more research on the history of the building and to accept any proposals from people who may want to save the house.

“The original plan from years ago was to offer up that half block for redevelopment and 405, 409 and 411 have been demolished over the past several years,” Becky Hutsell, redevelopment project manager for the city, said of the area in question. “We had taken a request to the commission in June to award a demolition contract for 401 and 204, and that’s when the historical society noted the significance of the properties and asked for them to not be demolished. As such, we’ve put together an RFP for anyone interested in purchasing/restoring them or redeveloping the half block. It only made sense to offer all lots in the half block as part of the RFP.”

According to the website business.goshen.org, Rethinking Buildings' description is listed as: “We offer a variety of complementary services related to designing, remodeling, renting, maintaining, and landscaping properties in an aesthetically, socially, and environmentally responsible manner. From restoring a wetland to replacing a faucet, our focus is on creative, quality work and safe, restorative products and processes.”

The company’s plans for the properties were not disclosed at Tuesday’s meeting.

According to Mark Brinson, community development director for the city, the submitted $237,000 bid does qualify as an acceptable bid for the properties. As such, he said the next step in the process involves convening a small committee of RDC and city staff members to review the proposal and come back with a project description and recommendation at a later meeting.

“Normally what we do is, we’ll normally have a review committee to review the proposal with staff, and that can include no more than two members of the commission,” Brinson said of the committee.

As such, commission members Brian Garber and Andrea Johnson volunteered to be a part of the review committee.

“So we’ll report back to you,” Brinson added of the review process, noting that a recommendation will likely be made at the RDC’s upcoming Oct. 8 meeting.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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