Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist
Tell City is revitalizing one of its major streets, which once served as a manufacturing hub along the Ohio River, into a destination for restaurants, downtown living, the arts – and a caboose.
Once home to a furniture builder, Tell City is transforming Seventh Street into an entertainment corridor. The street now boasts a new housing development with scenic river views and the Pour Haus, a brewery with regional acclaim. It’s a continued sign of growth for the southern Indiana city that plays host to a popular farm-to-table event and will soon become home to a permanently-displayed caboose at its train depot.
“It’s like a ball rolling down hill and picking up speed – that’s where we’re at right now in Tell City,” said the city’s mayor Jim Adams.
Igniting the revitalization was the city’s decision to purchase and excavate the former manufacturing property, making it shovel ready for growth. The housing development, River Pointe, and a medical clinic soon followed. On the horizon? The potential for a hotel or convention center, Adams said.
“Tell City has always been a great place to raise kids. A lot of people like the hustle and bustle of larger cities when they are younger, but when they start raising families, they like more of a 101 situation,” Adams said. “It gives you a little more of a hometown feel as far as lifestyle without giving up many of the luxuries of bigger cities.”
Adams’ goal is to offer residents reasons for involvement in the city, whether it’s dining out or going to an art show. He’s opened City Hall for events, so people leave with a different impression of local government. The building isn’t just the place where people pay their water bill, Adams said.
“If you want to keep your people here, you have to give them something to do and that’s what we are learning,” Adams said. “We have that opportunity and we need to do it.”
City leaders are working to draw visitors and residents to the riverfront, with the area showcasing murals illustrating iconic places in Tell City’s history and a playground. One day, Adams envisions floating a barge for concert space. And just east of the river is the train project.
The city received a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for the caboose project. The caboose will serve as a learning station for schoolchildren and can be pulled away for train rides through southern Indiana. Inside the adjoining train depot is a shop selling creations from local artisans and community space.
With those projects and new shops popping up, Adams is seeing a renewed pride in Tell City.
“It really seems like they’re breathing a lot of life into the downtown area,” Adams said.