After sifting through the 123 pages provided to me by the Evansville (IN) Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) in response to a Freedom of Information Request concerning grants and loans in the Haynieís Corner and downtown areas, I must admit that I am mystified. There were apparently no grants of any kind given in the target areas between 1999 and 2004, as none are shown in that time period. I only find records of two facade grants, each in the amount of $5,000, given in the area during that ten years. I have doubts that is the whole story, but in defense of DMDís long-suffering staff, I can certainly see how a perfectly legitimate oversight could occur in providing the information I asked for. I have reason to believe that there were several relatively small grants given to businesses in the target area over the past decade, to generally ìspruce upî the curb appeal of the area. I will be delving further into the facade grant program with another Freedom of Information Act Request specific to that program to be filed before the close of business on Friday of this week.
There are, however, records of grants in the area that deserve mention. The largest is for a perennial favorite among City County Observer readers. It is in the amount of $800,000 to Centre City Development of Indianapolis, toward the renovation of the McCurdy Hotel into luxury apartment units. We all know how that turned out. The date on the grant is October 2, 2007 and the McCurdy may have deteriorated beyond salvation since the ìgiftingî took place. We continue to hear occasional rumors of interest on the part of new developers, one as recently as about a month ago.
The Alhambra has been the recipient of $196,000 in gifts from DMD in December of 2010, most of which went for HVAC and structural repairs. The old movie theatre, with its minarets, has always been a fascinating piece of architecture for preservationists, and has been an on-going object of various private and public community fund-raising drives. It currently serves as a gallery and is an attraction for the area. The adjoining ìSculpt EVVî project, was carried out by USI. It was a two year project that began in September of 2011. There are several pieces of outdoor sculpture on vacant lots that add to the ìArts Districtî atmosphere that is being created for the block. On a recent visit to the area, I observed that all of the houses left on that block of Adams Avenue were displaying For Sale signs, most "by owner". Continue>>>