DELPHI — The city of Delphi is looking to turn its "Storied Past, Stellar Future" mantra into a "Stellar Past, Storied Future," with the completion of a $23 million revitalization project.
Delphi leaders have spent the past five years restoring and upgrading the city's downtown area into a "welcoming, friendly destination." In 2012, the Indiana Stellar Communities Designation Program chose the Carroll County town as one of its two designees for a revitalization effort.
The state awarded Delphi $23 million for a multiyear, multifaceted plan. Some of the projects were for downtown facade and streetscape improvements, owner-occupied rehabilitation and an expansion and restoration of the Delphi Opera House — the center of the Stellar project. The project also expanded the city's nature trails in two phases and replaced an old water line.
On Thursday, Oct. 29, city and state officials met at the opera house to celebrate the end of the five-year project. Anita Werling, president of the Delphi Opera House Inc., and adviser at the Delphi Preservation Society, said when the project began, they thought it would take three years.
"Good things often take longer than you anticipate," she said.
Werling said many people were involved in the Stellar process to transform downtown Delphi, which she hopes leads to "generations of fruition" in the town. With the historic preservation of the opera house as the main focus of the project, Werling said it gives Delphi the return of a performance venue as well as an "economic engine" for the city.
"When people are coming into the community, they're looking for restaurants and for places to shop, and they see this wonderful downtown, and then they come back," she said.
The opera house's Nov. 2 show featuring Jeff Daniels is already sold out, Werling said, one of multiple sold-out shows at the venue. She said about 60 percent of patrons come from outside of the county, such as Lafayette, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Logansport and Frankfort.
Delphi mayor Shane Evans said he wants to city to capitalize on the investments made downtown through the Stellar project. Only a handful of storefronts aren't filled with a business, Evans said, and he hopes that can soon be at full capacity. He said the city also needs to attract a workforce that wants to work and live in Delphi.
Evans said the city has a "broader reach" than it did five to 10 years ago, with people visiting the local businesses and attending shows at the opera house.
"It's a great place to be to be able to look back on the successes of the city of Delphi and to re-imagine what the future can be with the assets that we have right now," he said.