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Orleans Downtown Building Owners Can Apply For Grants For Facade Improvements
Updated February 1, 2017 7:26 AM
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(ORLEANS) - Orleans Building owners along with community leaders have been in discussion in recent months concerning the town's Facade Improvement Project now underway to restore the storefronts of the various historical buildings located in and around the town's designated historic district downtown.

A number of Orleans business building owners were present for two workshops held late last year to learn first-hand the details on the town's long awaited Facade Improvement Project for the historic business district. The breakfast meeting, which was sponsored by the Orleans Chamber of Commerce provided attendees with an overview of the facade grant program and how to apply for project monies.

Greg Sekula, director of the southern regional office of Indiana Landmarks said "unfortunately, Orleans has had some significant loss since its downtown square was established as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009," Sekula said.

Sekula explained that saving the history of a community is vital to the town's population, economy and growth.

"Communities that protect and promote their heritage, like the town of Orleans, really are the communities that, at the end of the day, are thriving or have the potential for further investment," he said. "People are drawn to communities that have great structures and unique architecture. Trying to retain and maintain that heritage is really important for the viability of the town."

Sekula said families wanting to move look for places with a sense of heritage, and a lot of millennials are drawn to the incubator-friendly lifestyle where there are apartments above downtown shops.

"You want to maintain that population downtown of people who are living and working in that city center, because that keeps those places valuable," he added.

Orleans Chamber Executive Director Robert F. Henderson said the project is a collaboration among the Orange County Economic Development Partnership, the Town of Orleans and the Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

The "Imagine Orleans" project was conducted with Ball State University a few years ago, and it included several ideas for downtown revitalization.

"Both the Chamber and town have been long time advocates for revitalization efforts of the historic business district and immediate areas," Henderson said. "Much has been accomplished in recent years with the one last major phase being addressing the various late nineteenth century old facades in and around historic Congress Square."

"All were in agreement during the community work sessions held with Ball State that in order for the historic area to be a more attractive and inviting place, the immediate area of Congress Square must be as vibrant and aesthetic as it can be. In order to accomplish this, the space around the square and nearby must be utilized efficiently and well maintained."

OCEDP Director Lloyd Arnold said that originally, $100,000 was set aside for the community enhancement project, and OCEDP will take the lead for the facade effort while the town of Orleans and Chamber serve as community partners. The project will be carried out in a similar fashion to the facade improvement efforts in Paoli and French Lick/West Baden Springs. Individual building owners can receive grants of $10,000, if eligible, with a 10 percent match being required, to be used to repair facades.

Building owners will be required to submit a photograph of their existing building front and the total amount being requested as well as for the complete project. In addition a complete description of the proposed facade improvements (such as brick work, roof repairs, windows, paint and awnings) will be requested, along with itemized cost estimates of work to be completed.

For more information, contact Arnold at (812) 723-3388, the Orleans Town Hall at (812) 865-2539 or the Orleans Chamber office (812) 865-9930.

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