TERRE HAUTE —
For decades, it seems, downtown Terre Haute has been in the throes of change. Even during the prolonged period when the historic Terre Haute House hotel building sat empty, abandoned and decaying, other portions of the one-time bustling commercial district continued to evolve.
But ever since the old hotel was razed and replaced by a new hotel at the northeast corner of Seventh and Wabash, the pace of development has increased. And the momentum has not subsided.
The latest major development came this week with the announcement from Indiana State University that a downtown student housing project will move forward. If all goes well, within two years, ISU students will begin populating a four-story structure between Fifth and Sixth streets on the north side of Wabash Avenue. Upper-classmen will live on the top three floors, with retail space occupying the ground floor.
The $17.5 million project, a partnership between ISU and Thompson Thrift Development, stands to impact downtown Terre Haute in significant and positive ways.
“To me, this is a very transformational project for that part of downtown,” said Paul Thrift, president of Thompson Thrift Development. “I believe it will spur other activity in the immediate area, and that’s what the university has envisioned — for this to be a catalyst” for other downtown development.
Not everyone will be happy about the project or with ISU’s further movement into the downtown area, but we applaud the move. ISU surely had other options, and the one it has chosen through its master plan will make the historic downtown more vibrant in years to come.
In many ways — socially, culturally, geographically and economically — the university and Terre Haute’s downtown share an intense interest in the area’s long-term success. The partnership being forged to bring student housing to Wabash Avenue will pay dividends for all involved. If downtown is healthy and thriving, the entire community will be as well.