News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 28, 2014

Lofty designs: Apartment developer fills its plate with conversions of old Clinton factories

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — If tackling a large plate of spaghetti is best done one bite at a time, it might also be the best way to clean up a town known for the Spaghetti Open golf tournament and the Little Italy Festival.

The latest bites taken to clean up the Vermillion County town of Clinton are being taken by Herman & Kittle Properties of Indianapolis, a multi-state development company specializing in rental housing and self-storage facilities.

Working with the City of Clinton, Little Italy Festival Town Inc. (LIFT) and the West Central Indiana Economic Development District, Herman & Kittle is just about nine months away from fully converting an abandoned garment factory into brand new apartments.

Speaking last week inside the vacant factory building on South Fourth Street, Will Mock of Herman & Kittle said the building should be ready for its first tenants in August.

“It’ll look completely different in nine months,” Mock said looking around the two-story brick shell. The building will offer eight apartments on the second floor and six on the ground floor, he said.

The factory once included another building. Inside the two structures was quite a lot of “stuff” collected by a former owner, said Mayor Jack Gilfoy, who worked with other local government and civic leaders to bring about the project. The city acquired the property through a tax sale and cleaned it up, he said.

The cleanup required more than two dozen 40-yard trash containers, city officials said. It also yielded 20 truck loads of scrap metal for recycling, they said.

“We found everything in here except the remains of [former Teamsters President] Jimmy Hoffa,” said Dean Strohm, Clinton’s City Council president. Indiana environmental officials were called in at one point after the discovery of a large drum of a hazardous waste, he said.

In addition to apartments, the old brick building, constructed in the early 1900s, will include an exercise center and a common kitchen area, Mock said.

“It’s going to be a nice change,” said George “Sonny” Carey, of LIFT, which, as a not-for-profit organization, will own the building. Despite that, the building will make payments to LIFT and the City of Clinton over the next 10 years, Gilfoy said.

A few miles away, at North Seventh and Clinton streets, Herman & Kittle has demolished a former plastic factory to make room for “The Villas,” another multi-unit apartment complex. This one will include more than 40 units, Mock said. Those apartments should be ready for tenants in September or November, he said.

Since taking office two years ago, Gilfoy said his goal has been to tackle some of the run-down and unsightly areas of his city. These apartment buildings represent two examples, he said.

“We decided to get the town cleaned up,” the mayor said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or