A former elementary school in Trafalgar will be re-purposed as a furniture store, office space for small businesses and a center for community events.
Eric Crawford, a businessman who lives in Bargersville, purchased the former Indian Creek Elementary School earlier this year from the Hensley Township Trustee for $50,000. Under state law, the school couldn’t sell the property and instead had to give it to the trustee, Beth Baird. She then sold the property to Crawford.
Classes ended at the former elementary school last year, after Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools added a $10 million wing to the intermediate school where the elementary school is now housed.
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The township doesn’t yet have any plans on what to do with the funds from the sale of the school, Baird said.
Crawford sees the town of Trafalgar, with just over 1,100 residents, as being in a similar situation as Bargersville was just a decade ago, before that town transformed into the fastest growing community in Johnson County, he said.
That type of growth is only going to continue moving south in Johnson County, and getting his business set up in Trafalgar will have him ahead of the curve, Crawford said. Trafalgar’s population should begin to expand in about a decade, Crawford said.
Crawford plans to move his new and used furniture store, housed on the east side of Indianapolis, to Trafalgar. Drawing customers could be a challenge at first, but the Greenwood and Center Grove area have enough population to support it initially, he said.
With the remainder of the building, Crawford plans to lease classroom space to small or new businesses looking for an affordable place to start.
Many new businesses don’t have the funds to buy or lease a large space, Crawford said. His plan is to offer an affordable place for startups that could eventually move elsewhere in the Trafalgar community.
Crawford said he has tried to be mindful of the community with his purchase of the building. He donated the school’s baseball field to the local little league, which has long used the space for games and practice. He’s also let the school gymnasium remain open to events for religious groups and nonprofit organizations. And he’s given away some of the remaining furniture inside the building.
“We want to be friendly to the community,” Crawford said. “We’re not trying to make waves with anyone in the community.”
The goal is to use the school as it is. Crawford has no plans to demolish the structure or make significant changes to the interior of the building.
“The building is in excellent shape; they took phenomenal care of the building,” he said.
Crawford is taking time now to analyze the building and is keeping a list of improvements that will be necessary before he can bring his furniture store south.
The Trafalgar Town Council also has looked into purchasing the school, but the cost of buying the property and making repairs was too prohibitive, council president Jason Ramey said.
Ramey said he is happy the property has been sold and hopes that Crawford will continue to be a good partner with the community.