Two long-abandoned factories in Clinton will soon make way for new apartments as part of an economic development project designed to clean up two blighted properties in the Vermillion County city.
Clinton Mayor Jack Gilfoy met with representatives of Herman & Kittle Properties Inc. on Wednesday at both sites — on South Fourth Street and off North Seventh Street — to review the next steps in the $8.2 million project.
“This building was just horrible,” Gilfoy said, standing on a bare wooden floor inside a former garment factory on South Fourth Street. Until a few days ago, the building had been stuffed with furniture, clothing and junk.
Workers cleaning out the building filled a 40-yard trash receptacle 19 times, Gilfoy said, discarding several years of accumulated “stuff” that had been stored in the building.
“We also salvaged scrap metal, and got about $9,000-plus, and that will pay for the Dumpsters,” city superintendent Cindy Yates said of the cleanup, which occurred on both floors of the building. Some items, such as dishware, will be donated to area organizations. Yates said she has already delivered 10 sets of crutches to another group.
On Wednesday, a building adjacent to the original garment factory remained full of “stuff” that Gilfoy said was deposited there by the building’s previous owner, who ran an auction business. Items that did not sell at auction apparently were stored in that building — which is stacked floor to ceiling. Gilfoy said the building will be torn down to make a green space next to the renovated garment factory.
Plans by Herman & Kittle Properties call for 12 apartment units to be built in the empty garment factory building.
Plans for the property on North Seventh Street call for 46 apartment units to be developed on the site, once the old cinderblock building is razed. That property will have three-bedroom apartments, a dog park, a garden area, a park for children and garage space.
The City of Clinton has partnered with Little Italy Festival Inc. as a nonprofit entity to purchase the property at a tax sale. (The prior owner had accumulated $160,000 in delinquent property taxes, which had not been paid since 1998, Gilfoy said.)
George B. “Sonny” Carey, president of Little Italy Festival Inc., said that the project is a well-needed boost for the city.
“This is probably the biggest combined project I’ve ever seen,” said Carey, who also is publisher of the Daily Clintonian. “Just facilitating this job is huge.”
LIF became involved as the nonprofit entity that was needed to work with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority on the development project, and gives the project state tax credits.
The city is working with with Jim Coffenberry of West Central Indiana Economic Development District to create a tax increment financing district that will capture the increase in property taxes paid on the renovated building. Those TIF funds will be used for improvements, such as sidewalks and street paving, related to the TIF district.
Tackling the project has taken a lot of effort, said the mayor, who took office in January 2012. Gilfoy said one of his campaign promises was to clean up abandoned and neglected properties. Working with Herman and Kittle to acquire and develop both of the abandoned factory properties has taken about a year to get to this point, he said.
“We all sat back and came to the agreement that this is the best thing for the city,” Gilfoy said of the partnership with the city council, LIF and WCIEDD.
Mason Ritchie, director of purchasing and design for Herman & Kittles, said once demolition and construction starts in October, the project will take 10 to 12 months to complete.
Ritchie said that the former garment building has no interior walls to be torn out, and there are support columns that will be incorporated in the design of the apartment building.
Project director Michael Roderer said the apartment units will be designed for general occupancy, though some will be designed for people with physical, vision or hearing impairments.
“We won’t make any major structural modifications to the the building,” Roderer said of the old garment factory. “The bones of the building are pretty good.”
Herman & Kittle Properties is excited about the project, he said.
“You can’t do this kind of redevelopment without a lot of cooperation with the owner,” Roderer said.
One city resident who was excited about the project was Mort Jones, who lives in the first house south of the old garment factory site. After walking around the site and talking with the design team, he said he was thrilled that the city is finally cleaning up the property.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.