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10/23/2018 10:18:00 AM
Wabash may need to get extension into 2019 to finish Stellar Communities projects

Mackenzi Klemann, Wabash Plain Dealer Editor

An extension may be needed for one of the City’s Stellar Communities projects.

Higher than expected bids have pushed the second phase of the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program back, according to the latest Stellar quarterly report released in October. But all other projects appear on schedule and should be finished or have contracts in place before the end of 2018, per program requirements.

According to the quarterly report, bids for the second round of the Owner-Occupied program were “so much higher” than during the first phase “that we cannot award work due to the program limits on how much we can spend on one home.” The report says an extension may be needed to close out grants properly, as the original grant deadline is Dec. 31 but construction can’t begin “until we get bids that are in line with what we can spend.” Program administrators were seeking additional bids at the time of the report.

The Owner-Occupied program offers financial assistance to area homeowners for things like lead paint removal and so-called aging in place upgrades. Eleven homes participated in the first round, while another 12 or so are expected to receive funding in the second round, according to the report. A majority of the program’s funding comes from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, which awarded two $250,000 grants, the second of which was still pending at the time of the quarterly report. The City matched 10 percent of the program’s cost, $50,000.

But all other projects appear on schedule, despite several others expected to continue into 2019.

Construction along the Ind. 13/Ind. 15 corridor will continue through 2019, for example, but this is not expected to cause any complications associated with the grant process as a contract has already been awarded to Phend and Brown.

The report estimates that construction will take place through the summer of 2019, with construction on the west side of Ind. 13 slated to begin next year.

The Eagles Theatre renovation will also continue into 2019 as the project has been split into two phases, the first of which is partially-funded by Stellar-related community development block grants and TIF revenue from the City.

The last Stellar-related project expected to carry over into 2019 are downtown streetscape improvements, which the report expects will continue through next spring. Improvements include accessibility upgrades like sidewalk ramps, as well as new landscaping.

All other Stellar projects should be finished by the end of the year.

Rock City Lofts is now open and leasing to tenants 55 and older, while the Inclusive Playground is expected to open before the end of November. And only three buildings receiving grants through the Facade Program are still under construction. Those include the Bradley Building, Reading Room Books and the Eagles Theatre. A total of 22 businesses and buildings participated in the program.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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