There’s been a lot of news and good progress for both the Noblesville Granary and Blackhawk Commons. Both planning processes have involved many engagements with the communities, and each has encountered reasonable challenges. In both Sheridan and Noblesville, the immediate neighbors are particularly invested in speaking out, and we remain resolute to engage and address concerns comprehensively. This post provides a brief summary of recent events.
In Sheridan, we met with over 20 neighbors to discuss the possible restoration of the Sheridan School. Blackhawk Commons received passionate appeals from many individuals who work with youth and families and are particularly sensitive to the need for affordable housing. Preservation of the school is a high priority for the community, for both sentimental and practical reasons. The town leaders have already approved our request to rezone the property and extended a tax abatement to support the project.
Then, at the County Council meeting on October 7th, over 15 representatives from Sheridan showed up to support HAND’s request for support. In an unprecedented move, the County Council made a motion to approve the funding request after only hearing 2 of Sheridan’s 5 spokespersons! Councilor McKinney said of the request, “You had us at hello,” and the Council expressed their gratitude and excitement about the preservation of this facility (including the image above from the existing center court).
Thanks to Robert Marr, Carla Naum, Dave Mundy, Lisa Samuels and Dave Kincaid who spoke, or were prepared to speak on behalf of the project. Many more came out or wrote letters to express the broad support. Our gratitude to Margaret, Beverly, Becky, Parvin, Brenda, Jesse and the rest!
The Noblesville Granary is another project in a different community, and the process for garnering support is unique. Vocal opposition by our neighbor is giving us opportunities to address the misconceptions of affordable housing and engage the community in meaningful planning conversations.
Our plans have been shaped by these discussions, and now that the designs are public, we can better show how the re-purposed grain elevator and site will contribute to downtown Noblesville’s vibrant economy. It’s the public debate of our proposal that has the potential to strengthen the project, so we’re happy to debate the merits of the Granary openly.
City and County officials are now starting to receive detailed plans and proposals, and are still forming their opinions about the development. The County Commissioner’s decision to allocate CDBG funds to the project helped us get very close to a minimum threshold. If we can secure a moderate pledge from the City in the coming weeks, our application is going to be exceptionally competitive at the state.
The County’s decision to not vote on our request was understandable. The Council made it clear they want to see City involvement first. In Sheridan, timing worked for this to occur, but in Noblesville the process is different. The City will first decide whether to rezone the property this week – a request universally supported by plans and diverse constituents – and the Economic Development Commission and administration will determine how it may decide to help with the local match.
At the County Council meeting, many stood up to speak in support of the project. Mark Winzenread talked about the need for affordable housing and compared the project to similar developments on Mass Ave and Fountain Square that spurred economic development. Debbie Jamieson gave the neighbor’s perspective, and Dottie Young talked about the iconic structure. Nancy Chance and Sandy Stewart each provided convincing stories about working families and young people struggling to make it in Hamilton County. The need for quality affordable housing is in Noblesville, and the neighborhood is ripe for this investment. Thanks to Marcus and Ramona Ploof, Mike Corbett, Matt Yates, Holly Wheeler, and others who came out or wrote letters in support of our request.
By now the community should know that Section 8 is not included in this project, but we will not participate in denigrating a program that provides critical housing to some of our most vulnerable citizens.
The community should also be aware that we’re proposing a high quality development that will likely be the greenest development in downtown Noblesville – possibly Hamilton County.
The business incubator space in the existing Elevator will create economic opportunities for artists and entrepreneurs while expanding the Polk St. Arts District.
We also have offered parking solutions to the neighborhood, but cannot afford to depend on unreliable, untested parking carousels for the housing. In addition, HAND cannot build parking for a neighbor who won’t participate financially in a joint parking structure.
HAND’s negotiations were completely open and transparent, and the Owner elected our offer because we presented a viable proposal that met the city’s goals for a mixed-use development.
We want our partners at the Neighborhood, City and County to have the time they need to gain confidence in the Noblesville Granary. We have confidence the merits of the project are solid, and will garner the support it needs. The project meets so many strategic goals that we’re grateful to have site control so we can advocate for the highest and best use of this key property.
Thanks to all the volunteers, partners, and community leaders who are engaged in each of these projects.