Officials seek to preserve buildings

Specific construction standards proposed for historic properties

With many current and planned investments in downtown Greenwood, city officials are considering drafting a specific set of construction standards to preserve the historic nature of what is the oldest portion of the city.

A $1.7 million project to restore façades of downtown buildings, which the city contributed more than $1 million, wrapped up this spring. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission is half-way through awarding $500,000 in matching grants for downtown properties owners to do exterior renovations. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission will soon have a green light to move ahead with more than $20 million in improvements as well with the goal of sparking further private development.

With the investments that have been made and the amount of money the city is preparing to spend, the city needs to make sure the future developments match the characteristics and the quality of the work already completed and underway, council member Brent Corey said.

He is pushing for the city to create an overlay district covering old town Greenwood. Similar districts have been set up in Greenwood around State Road 135 and Interstate 65. The overlay district would focus on standards such as the materials used for construction and how those buildings should look.

“It needs to be done to protect our assets and the character of old town Greenwood,” Corey said.

Corey cited Franklin, Carmel and Plainfield as other Indiana cities that have taken steps to protect the nature of their downtown areas.

The overlay district in downtown Franklin has specifications including the types of construction materials that are permissible, what window designs should be used and how historic buildings should be maintained. The goal of Franklin’s overlay district is to preserve the character and sense of place created by the area’s history.

While he agrees that an overlay district is needed, efforts to begin creating it likely won’t start until closer to the end of the year, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.

The city is still searching for a new engineer and community development services director, the person who would be key to assisting with those plans, he said.

Once that role is filled, that person would likely work with an architectural consulting firm to make plans for the overlay district, Myers said.

A downtown overlay district would include regulations such as the types and colors of paints and construction standards, he said.

“You want any remodel that is a major remodel to reflect the history of the building they are remodeling,” Myers said.

Consistency and uniformity is the goal. A new building coming in to downtown Greenwood should match the brick buildings whose façades the city restores this past year, council member Mike Campbell said.

He would want the overlay district to also address lighting and signs, to create a specific look and standard.

Council member Linda Gibson agreed that signage is an important detail for downtown, and including requirements for it in an overlay district will help create a distinct feeling.

“I think the building standards will keep everyone on the same pathway, not to be identical with each other, but to blend together,” she said.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.