As construction on Greencastle’s square wraps up, so too does funding from the Stellar Communities Grant.
The grant was awarded to Greencastle in 2011, and since then the $19 million that were awarded to the town have been spread over a variety of projects, including the Anderson Street entrance to DePauw University, the arrival of Eli’s Books and Starbucks, the new parking lot on Indiana Street and construction on the square to update roads and building facades.
“I view Stellar as funding primarily for infrastructure around the square, between DePauw and the square,” said Vice President for Finanace and Administration Brad Kelsheimer.
Stellar money, which was funded by three state organizations—Community of Rural Affaira, Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Housing Authority—is definitely running out.
“We’re nearing the end of the program,” said Greencastle Mayor Bill Dorry. “Obviously our former mayor Sue Murray did a fabulous job of pulling the team together to get the job done. Now my task is to help complete the work and get things closed out.”
But as the Stellar Grant dries up, what’s the next step for Greencastle and DePauw?
According to Kelsheimer, it’s not just one step--it’s three. The first phase consists of downtown revitalization, the second phase is updating housing and the third and ultimate phase is to increase the tax base. Currently, we’re in the first phase: focusing on the resurgence of Greencastle’s downtown.
“The more pride we can develop in our downtown, the better,” Kelsheimer said.
To this end, Kelsheimer is thinking big. He doesn’t want Greencastle to be one of many Indiana small towns--he wants it to become a destination.
“When we think downtown revitalization, we’re thinking bigger than just serving the campus, and bigger even than serving Greencastle,” he said.
According to Kelsheimer, there are 75,000 to 100,000 visitors to DePauw each year. 10,000 vehicles pass through Greencastle on Highway 231 every day. 30,000 vehicles pass by on Interstate 70 every day. According to ESRI Data, and economic development database tool, there are $19 million worth of unmet demand for sit down restaurants within a 20 mile radius of Greencastle.
These numbers add up, and fast.
"There clearly is demand,” Kelsheimer said. “We just don’t have the supply.”
Two new restaurants that are just around corner and primed to meet this demand are Tap House 24 and Wasser Beer. Tap House 24 should be open by early June and Wasser Beer plans to be serving patrons by late April or May.
Meanwhile, Mitch Meyers, owner of Meyer’s Market, has purchased Chief’s old restaurant location, and plans to use the space for pop-up restaurants, as well as renting out the space.
“We would love to see a rooftop venue along [North Indiana Street], but it’s too early, probably, to call that a specific project," Kelsheimer added.
Again, those numbers add up. Considering the restaurants already serving in downtown Greencastle, the two additional restaurants make a total of eight food-serving establishments on the square, not including 2 West Bistro or The Fluttering Duck. That number also doesn’t include the two pages of interested third parties Kelsheimer has tucked away in a binder full of revitalization ideas.
Aside from restaurants, stores like Crickets and Conspire: Contemporary Craft have started giving the square more of a retail presence. According to Kelsheimer, DePauw had nothing to do with the arrival of these two new shops.
“That’s just Greencastle stepping up and being entrepreneurial,” he said.
Above Conspire is the Black Cat Gallery, which provides a space for local artists on a rotating basis. Kelsheimer would like to see a continued expansion of the arts, perhaps including another gallery near Music on the Square.
Another of Kelsheimer’s big dreams is to see the cinema move onto the square and into a renovated space. This lines up with one of his key terms: density.
“We want to focus on density,” he said. “We don’t want to pop up retail right next to our campus because if we do, it dilutes from the density on the square.”
Though density is important, Dorry is set on ensuring that all parts of Greencastle are growing, not just the square. In keeping with that goal, projects off the square are also in the works for Greencastle.
The fire station has received a grant for renovations that will take place over the summer. These will include interior renovations as well as updates to the brick façade.
Dorry is particularly excited about Greencastle’s partnership with the YMCA of the Wabash Valley, which will hopefully lead to the building of a community center, but it’s still very early on.
“We haven’t even gauged an architect,” he said. “We don’t have any existing buildings that could handle it—other than our school, and we won’t take over our schools for this,” Dorry joked.
On or off the square, Kelsheimer believes that DePauw needs to be involved in Greencastle’s continued growth.
“There’s an infrastructure in place in Greencastle and I think it’s a great one,” he said. “In my view it’s energizing work so I like to do it, and I also think DePauw has a responsibility to do it. We’re socially responsible to this county.”
Dorry sees the city’s responsibility in another manner: a responsibility toward following through, and following up on the opportunities the Stellar Grant jumpstarted.
“We’re just going to try to pursue whatever opportunities present themselves in the next few years.”