Greenwood seeks to restore historic face of downtown

Gone will be the pastel paint jobs, shingled awnings and wood siding on businesses in downtown Greenwood.

Instead, shoppers would see a more uniform look on shops and restaurants with red brick, larger windows, and modern stone, wood or aluminum features on storefronts.

As part of the city’s downtown revitalization plan, 35 buildings are being considered for facade improvements to repair bricks and mortar and replace non-historic and irregular features.

The projects could cost $770,000, which could be paid for with grants, money from the city’s tax-increment financing districts and from contributions from the building owners. The exact costs and how they would be paid for haven’t been finalized.

Most of the buildings could use between $10,000 and $35,000 of work, which typically includes brick repair and installing new storefronts with larger windows or decorative features, according to plans put together by HWC Engineering after a study of each building.

Plans suggest returning most buildings to their original red brick wherever possible and removing wood paneling or shingled awnings. Properties, including the Money, Van Valer and Circle City Auto Parts buildings, are examples of the historic look the city wants to emulate, according to the plan.

The plan to revitalize downtown includes improving streets and sidewalks, improving Old City Park and creating a walking path along Pleasant Run Creek, to encourage more people to want to come downtown. Facade improvements are a critical component of that plan because people visiting downtown should be able to get a feel for the history of the area as they stop in local shops or grab dinner, Mayor Mark Myers said.

But right now, many of the buildings in old town look, simply put, old, Myers said.

“It’s going to give it more and better curb appeal. You’re not going to have your old, rundown-looking buildings. You’re going to have new paint, new brick, new storefronts. It’s going to maintain that old-fashioned, original look, but not the rundown appearance,” Myers said.

In surveys and public meetings, city residents and business owners overwhelmingly said they wanted to maintain the historic look of downtown and mix of small shops and restaurants, as opposed to other options such as rebuilding with a more modernized theme and trying to attract more offices or corporate businesses. To accomplish that, the city is considering creating design guidelines for downtown and helping fund an expansive project of building repairs and upgrades, similar to what’s been done to revamp downtown Franklin, Myers said.

Sidewalks and parks improvements will give people more opportunities to park and walk around downtown and make it an attraction for public events. Local restaurants, such as Vino Villa, La Trattoria and Revery, have become destinations for local residents and visitors, Greenwood Plan Commission President Trent Pohlar said.

Improving other downtown buildings can help the existing businesses grow and create opportunities for shop owners who will want to move into a newly renovated downtown, Pohlar said.

“We’ve got a good start, but there are a lot of improvements; and if you do, you’ve got more opportunity for smaller businesses to come in and rent space,” he said.

Building owners downtown are supportive of plans to renovate the buildings and have been open to paying part of the cost, Grafton Peek Ballroom owner Jason West said.

If the city were able to get state grants or provide other funds, building owners would be able to pay as little as 10 percent of the cost to get a substantial update to their facades, he said. Masonry work and window repairs can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, which is difficult for a building owner to cover because of how much they can charge in rent based on the current condition of buildings downtown, West said.

“It is difficult for an owner of an old building who has a nominal rent coming in to shell out $40,000 or $50,000 to make those improvements,” West said.

The most expensive project currently in the plan would be the former Ford auto garage at 332 W. Main St., costing about $132,000, according to the plan. The building would require a significant renovation to remove metal siding and the shed roof and install a brick facade and four large windows that span the length of the building.

The small building at 188 S. Madison Ave. also would get an entirely brick facade, making that the second-most-expensive project at $53,000.

Smaller buildings, such as The Best Little Hair House, Main Street Cutz and A-Trains/Railway Production, would remain mostly the same and need only minor repairs, according to the plan.

At a glance

Greenwood wants to help business owners make repairs and improvements to their buildings as part of a plan to revitalize downtown. The total project is expected to cost about $770,000. Here’s a look at how much money could be spent on individual buildings:

Less than $5,000: 4 buildings

$5,000 to $10,000: 4 buildings

$10,000 to $20,000: 13 buildings

$20,000 to $30,000: 8 buildings

$30,000 to $35,000: 4 buildings

Greater than $35,000: 1 building for $53,000, and 1 building for $132,000