An architect has placed the cost of the Main Street restroom project at upwards of $240,000, with most (possibly all) of that money coming from local public agencies of one kind or another.
Friday the city’s Redevelopment Commission gave “soft” approval to contributing $75,000 to the project, which entails turning the storefronts at 422, 424 and 426 Main St. into restrooms and a large space that could possibly be leased for retail or office use sometime in the future.
At the urging of city council president Shirley Rose, the Urban Enterprise Association, of which Rose is also a member, purchased the three buildings in March for $18,000 with the intention of turning them into restrooms.
Rose argued that public restrooms were needed on that end of Main Street, essentially to complement the public restrooms at the Riverfront Pavilion at 102 N. Second St.
There is also the argument that should the Pantheon Theatre, 428 Main St., ever be restored and used in some public way the restrooms would be needed because there are no facilities in the building.
Rose has been working with Shyla Beam, executive director of the Vincennes/Knox Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, on a $50,000 grant from the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs to be used to help with the project.
Rose said the city should learn early next week whether it’s been successful.
But if not, Rose said the project could move ahead with local money (if that money can be found) but that the city would also apply for the next round of grants.
“We’ll just be in a holding pattern,” she said. “But we’ll apply again.”
According to estimates done by Donovan and Donovan, 427 Main St., the project is going to cost upwards of $240,000.
Beam and city chief of staff Cheryl Hacker have sought out other “partners” in the project. They say the CVB has committed $10,000 of the revenue from the county innkeeper’s tax toward the project, with the UEA agreeing to chip in another $20,000 and the city $88,000.
All these commitments are contingent upon, first, the city receiving the state grant and, second, the respective boards for each approving the contributions.
“We’ll continue looking for the money,” Hacker said. “We just had to get everything in writing so we could apply for the grant.”
Rose was thrilled to see the so many city entities get behind the project.
“This is a good thing,” she said. “Everybody wants to work together on this because they see it how good it can be for Main Street.”
Mayor Joe Yochum said, for the city’s share, he will look to use Economic Development Income Tax dollars, and he plans to look for additional grant money as well, including local grants from institutions like the Knox County Community Foundation.
The city’s Historic Review Board must also approve the project before it can move forward.