Old YMCA building Terre Haute

Shane Edmond runs past the old YMCA in downtown Terre Haute on Oct. 26, 2019.

In a 5-4 vote, the Terre Haute City Council on Thursday gave approval for a tax abatement for a project to convert the former YMCA building in downtown Terre Haute into apartments and to construct townhouses.

The council approved a nine-year tax abatement for 200 South 6th LLC, part of Commonwealth Properties, for a nine-year property tax abatement. The measure would abate about $103,000 in taxes, but the company would pay more than $90,800 in new property taxes to the city during that time.

Additionally, the company would not receive any abatement in years 8 and 9, but would pay $27,743 in taxes for each of those years, according to the resolution before the council.

It was the third time in a year that Wisconsin-based Commonwealth appeared before the council asking for a tax abatement.

The company plans to renovate the former YMCA at 200 S. Sixth Street into a mix of 34 units of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The company would build six new three-bedroom townhouses on the same property.

The former YMCA, built in 1939, has been vacant since 2006. The company will have one full-time staff person, with an estimated annual salary of $36,000 plus benefits, to manage the property.

Construction cost is estimated at $5.3 million.

The project next goes before the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission which is to vote on approving $500,000 from the city’s downtown tax increment finance or TIF district for the project.

Steve Witt, executive director of the city’s Department of Redevelopment, said a walk through of the property by the commission is slated for next week.

Witt said he supports the project.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I think waiting for another opportunity to come along is pretty risky, I think,” Witt told the council. Witt said the Redevelopment Department has held the $500,000 for two years as the project has been ongoing and has the funds on hand.

Council members met in a meeting streamed on YouTube. Voting yes were Tammy Boland, Curtis DeBaun, Neil Garrison, Martha Crossen and Todd Nation. Voting no were Amy Auler, Earl Elliott, Cheryl Loudermilk and George Azar.

Police training

In other business, the council approved $25,000 to supplement the city’s police department’s training instruction fund to pay for department-wide de-escalation and certification training.

The funding comes from the city’s “LivePD” production partnership, said Police Chief Shawn Keen.

Keen said the de-escalation training began at the end of last year. All of the training for the department is expected to be completed by the end of October.

Councilman Todd Nation voiced his appreciation of the city’s police department in handling peaceful protests in the city.

“I am proud no one was hurt and I think [the police department] handled it as good as could be, and I commend you routing funds from LIVE PD toward training on de-escalation.”

Council President George Azar said that the entire council expresses gratitude “for the professional job of the [police] department last week. You have our gratitude and support.”

Other matters

In some other matters, the council:

• Approved $418,379 into several police department funds: including $198,929 to cover year-end deficit cause from eight retirements and three resignations. The department pays for accrued paid time off under its contract with the city’s police union contract; $133,000 for annual clothing allowance of $1,500 per officer under the city’s police union contract; and $86,450 for annual pay of $650 per officer for annual CPR certification.

• Approved $1,937 for the purchase and replacement of expiring bulletproof vests. The city will get 50 percent of this cost back through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s bulletproof vest partnership program.

• Approved $5,000 to go into purchase of personal protective equipment. The city’s police department received the money from the Wabash Valley Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant.

• Approved $14,577 to reimburse for purchase of a crime scene response vehicle. The funding is from a 2019 grant from the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.

• Approved rezoning for property at 1502 and 1528 Poplar Street and 338 S. 15th St., for mini-warehouses. Matthew Bono, with EnviroForensics, told the council the property has soil remediation and vapor monitoring and is viable for the use of storage. The site has continuing monitoring which is reported to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Bono said. The site had remediation after contamination was discovered from a former dry cleaning business on the site.

• Approved rezoning for property at 2700 S. Third St., for parking space and warehousing for adjoining retail space operated by Wabash Valley Goodwill Industries Inc.

• Approved $11,910 for demolition of unsafe buildings.

• Approved a transfer of $5,100 for the city clerk’s office for use of installing plastic screens at the front desk as well as dividers for desks in the office. Mayor Duke Bennett said the expense qualifies for reimbursement from the state on COVID-19 expenses.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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