A vacant strip mall along Madison Avenue is being demolished, and city officials already are planning the next steps, which will include widening a creek to reduce the impact of flooding in the area.
The former shopping center, which at one time housed a restaurant, church and other businesses, has been described as an eyesore for years. Last year, the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission spent $1.1 million to purchase the vacant buildings, and $250,000 to tear the buildings down and remove the parking lot.
Once demolition is done as soon as the end of this week, the city plans to turn the property into greenspace by this spring. What will happen next with the shopping center property has yet to be decided. Initially, city officials discussed making the area a public park, but redevelopment president Brent Tilson has said that other commercial development remains an option.
But buying the property also is allowing the city to address a longtime issue with flooding in the area.
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During heavy rainfalls, water from Pleasant Run Creek will overflow onto Madison Avenue and onto other roads and neighborhoods along its path, leading to flooding south of Fry Road. At the beginning of 2017, the Greenwood Stormwater Board approved spending $111,000 to hire an engineering consulting firm to study potential improvements along the creek to reduce flooding in that area.
The study is now nearly complete and is recommending the banks of the creek be widened by 10 to 15 feet at two points — east of the former strip mall on Madison Avenue and at a bend in the creek between Madison Avenue and Fry Road. Pleasant Run Creek borders the east and south sides of the eight-acre former strip mall property, allowing the city to have the land to widen the creek at both locations.
The widened creek banks will likely be planted with prairie grass and will remain dry most of the time, but when flooding happens, more water can remain in the creek rather than spilling over, stormwater department director Chris Jones said.
That means water is less likely to flood nearby streets and homes. The widened banks also are intended to slow the flow of the water, which will help prevent erosion downstream, he said.
How much that work will cost has yet to be determined, but the project would be paid for by the stormwater department, which collects money from fees paid by homeowners and businesses, Jones said.
Any creek improvements are unlikely to take place this year, he said. The study and design plans have to be finished, and then the city will have to wait about six months to get permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he said.
Demolition could be finished as soon as this week, and the entire area will then be replanted with grass, Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz said.
Because the property is either in the floodway or flood zone, redevelopment becomes more challenging, Jones said. Before any new structures could be built, a developer would need approval from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and could be required to do additional drainage work, Jones said.