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Mayor envisions condos, offices at former city hall

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Here’s the mayor’s vision for repurposing the Greenwood city building: one- or two-bedroom high-end condominiums with hardwood floors and marble counter tops sold for $150,000 to $200,000.

When the city government offices move out next year, Mayor Mark Myers wants a developer to be ready to renovate the building that has served as city hall since the 1980s. Offices, upscale condos or apartments, or small shops could be options for how to use the building at Madison Avenue and Broadway Street, he said.

A major reason the city chose to move its offices was because of the $2.8 million estimate for rehabbing the current 28,000-square-foot city building. The city chose instead to spend $4.6 million to overhaul a 47,000-square-foot office tower nearby. Greenwood still owns the city building, though, and needs to find a use for it that is good for the community, Myers said.

Making money off selling the building isn’t much of a possibility because it needs extensive renovations, including possibly tearing out and replacing all of the interior walls and fixing the foundation, he said.

Greenwood likely will help fund the work because of a weak market for a project such as that, but he doesn’t know how much the city would pay or where the money would come from, he said. The city also wants to make sure the building becomes a high-end project, he said.

Two companies have talked to the city about converting the building into condos, and Myers said he likes that option best. Condos in historic buildings are popular in Indianapolis, and he believes eight to 12 condos in Greenwood would appeal to young professionals and people whose children are grown, he said.

The city currently doesn’t have anything like what he envisions, he said.

“It’s got to be something nice,” Myers said. “This is the neighborhood I grew up in. I want to be sure it stays nice.”

The downtown area has improved in recent years, with businesses such as Vino Villa and the Persimmon Tree opening in the area. Three years ago, 70 percent of the buildings on Main Street east of Madison Avenue were empty. Now all are full, Myers said.

Renovating the old city hall would contribute to reviving the area, he said.

Restore Old Town Greenwood, a group that promotes revitalization projects downtown, wants to be sure the city building is used for business or another use keeping with the efforts to improve downtown, board member Chuck Landon said.

“It’s a neighborhood that is really coming back,” he said. “What concerns me is if something that goes in there is something that isn’t consistent with what we’re trying to do here as neighbors.”

The city building, which is the former Polk Community House, has a locked, boarded up wing that has fallen into disrepair and has bats living in it. The foundation settled multiple times under the structure, causing walls to detach from the floor and giving floors throughout the building a slant of up to 4 inches.

Because of the floor slant, he keeps the desk drawers in his office locked so they don’t slide open, the mayor said.

As the city renovates the Presnell building, officials don’t want to abandon the old city building, Myers said. The building is historically significant to Greenwood but needs extensive renovations, including possible foundation repairs, he said.

The Polk family, who owned a cannery locally, had the facility built as a community center in 1920. Finding a developer to renovate the 93-year-old building while maintaining its historic brick exterior is part of the city’s overall plan to improve the older part of Greenwood, Myers said.

The large, two-story building is an important structure downtown, and its redevelopment would help the area, he said.

“That will be the kick start to get downtown revitalized,” he said.

Greenwood’s renovation of the future city hall also is part of that vision to use one of the city’s largest buildings. City offices, including the mayor’s, will leave the current building next spring, if renovations of the former Presnell office tower at Main Street and Madison Avenue go as planned.

The move will allow Greenwood offices to be in the same building, taking the engineering, planning and legal departments from their Emerson Avenue location and putting them under one roof.

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