Chelsea Schneider, Aim Municipal Innovations Specialist
Amid Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration, Corydon leaders set their sights on revitalizing the southern Indiana town that’s home to the first state capital.
From a new farmers market pavilion to park projects and extensive restoration of two historic buildings, town leaders are positioning Corydon for the state’s third century.
In 2016, the state designated Corydon as a Stellar Community, a program where winning communities receive funds for a variety of projects. Through the designation, Corydon Town Council President Eva North said the town will see even more growth, including the transformation of a former school building into senior housing and a proposed redevelopment of the former Keller Manufacturing site into a park, event center, hotel and apartments.
Those projects, town leaders say, will continue the momentum Corydon experienced as the state commemorated its 200th birthday.
“It was just the perfect storm to get that started,” North said recalling the excitement of the past year. “People started realizing this is a special place for all of us.”
Here are the top five projects to watch in Corydon:
Corydon will open the town’s first park in May. Bicentennial Park serves as the culmination of the community’s participation in the Hometown Collaboration Initiative, a community development training program through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The park is nearby the new Farmers Market pavilion located on the former site of an abandoned building.
The park will feature a plaza, seating and art walls showcasing tiles decorated by Harrison County fourth graders. Merchants surrounding the park plan to beautify their building’s exteriors to complement the gathering place.
A new park also will coincide with a $25 million project to re-envision the Keller Manufacturing site at the entrance into Corydon. The long-time furniture manufacturer closed more than 10 years ago, and the property is now vacant after the plant’s demolition.
Through the Stellar designation, two poorly maintained historic buildings are being renovated, one by Main Street Corydon and the other by a local accounting firm. On the bottom floors, the Stonecipher Building will house office space, and across the street, the J.J. Bulleit Building will feature an Italian restaurant. The upstairs of the buildings will contain apartments, addressing a key priority of increasing urban housing in Downtown Corydon.
The projects were awarded a combined $187,000 in state historic renovation grant funds to help offset costs. Once complete, the renovations are expected to more than quadruple the assessed values of the buildings.
Corydon School Senior Lofts
A former school building will become senior housing. And for some of its future residents, the lofts project means they will live in the same building where they attended junior high and high school.
The $7 million project, which benefited from Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority tax credits, will convert the former Corydon School building into 25 apartment units. An additional 20 apartments will be constructed on the hill behind the existing structure.
The building most recently housed the local Boys & Girls Club. The organization will now co-locate with the YMCA in a new building where the program will continue to grow.
Nearly 20 buildings in Downtown Corydon are getting facade makeovers through a locally-run grant program.
The program offers a 50/50 match, with the maximum grant of $10,000. The town provides $50,000 a year in local income tax revenues toward the program.
“We are really proud of how the buildings are looking,” North said.
Through the program, businesses are seeing more first-time customers and an increase in sales. So far, $156,000 in grants have leveraged $8 00,000 in private investment.
Across the street from the first state Capitol building is a new interactive history museum.
The museum, a joint project among the county, local foundation and the town of Corydon, celebrates natural resources in the area.
“The Discovery Center brings people in to show you what is available here in our natural resources,” North said. “We have so many beautiful natural resources with our forests. When you go into the Discovery Center, it will bring you out to the community. It will show you things you can discover outside.”