MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — Residents and business owners in Michigan City are excited now that the city is one step closer to achieving its goal of a downtown plaza in hopes of revitalizing the downtown area and increasing business for local business owners.
Members of the City Council voted Thursday night to approve the purchase of a building and property located at 709 Franklin Street which is one of the last plots of land the city is looking at converting into a plaza.
The building, according to officials, has been vacant for quite some time and suffered damage after demolition crews dropped a beam on the building while demolishing a previous structure that was once located directly next to it.
Due to the damage, the former law office suffered water damage and mold issues.
Although the purchase of the land and building is part of a project headed by the city’s Redevelopment Commission, City Council members were required to vote on approving the purchase since the sale price exceeded the appraisal.
The property was valued at $235,000 according to a 2017 appraisal, however, the seller of the property was asking $450,000. Members of the Redevelopment Commission managed to negotiate a final price of $310,000 which was still $75,000 over the appraised value.
Although some council members expressed their concerns about the price, the purchase was approved with a 9-0 vote concluding that even though that price was more than the appraised value, the purchase was in the best interest of the future economic growth of Michigan City.
Over 15 attendees addressed the council during the meeting, mostly business owners on Franklin Street, to express their support of the purchase adding that the plaza would be a vital improvement to not only businesses on Franklin Street but also other nearby businesses and residents throughout the city.
The plaza project is part of an effort to increase business in the downtown district by giving residents a place to attend more events throughout the year such as ice-skating during the winter, art shows, and more, including providing extra space for First Fridays.
According to studies conducted by several market analysis companies, cities with a downtown square or plaza have seen an increase in foot traffic, sales, and business growth since its addition.
Officials believe the same will be true with Michigan City’s downtown area and hope that the new plaza will provide a comfortable space to add new events and increase attendance at current events like First Friday, Shelf Ice Brew Fest, and others.