Fight to preserve part of Noblesville’s old grain elevator appears to have worked

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Noblesville, Ind. (September 9, 2015) - An old, dilapidated grain elevator in Noblesville may still have life in it after all.

FOX 59 first told the story of the fight to preserve the old milling site along Eighth Street in Noblesville in June.

That's when the grain elevator and silos were mid-demolition and people were calling for it to be put on hold.

"It could be anything or it might not be worth saving, but I just think we should talk about it before it's too late, " Emily Compton, Noblesville Preservation Alliance, said at the time. "It could be restaurants, apartments, condos, shops, bars, anything. It may be ugly now, but it's iconic for our town."

Fast forward to September and the property owner, the North Central Co-Op (NCC), has reached an agreement with the Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development (HAND).

"We just persisted and continued to ask questions and the community just continued to rally and participate in expressing how important this was to them," said Nate Lichti, Executive Director of HAND. "We just find that continual perseverance can help move things and make things happen."

HAND has secured architects and wants to turn the site into affordable housing and maybe more.

"I think we've got a design team that’s really going to be able to help us ascertain and create a plan that will be economically viable and efficient so that we are being judicious with the resources that we have," said Lichti. "Some of the components most important to the community are residential. We need more rooftops in downtown Noblesville, some economic development, commerce, and some opportunities for people to work and create businesses in the Southwest Quad.

Debbie Jamieson represents the Southwest Quad, the neighborhood adjacent to the old grain elevator.

"The Co-Op has listened to our concerns about a total demolition and we're pleased," said Jamieson. "What we’d love to see, at least as much as possible, is for it to be saved and preserved and become a valuable part of the community. Something that will benefit our neighborhood as well as the greater community. We’d like for it to be multi-purpose. We don’t just want an empty parking lot, but something that can serve all of Noblesville."

Some of the structure is not salvageable, but architects hope to save part of the original wooden grain elevator.

"We stopped the demolition and we’re starting to look at how to save the actual tower," said Darren Peterson, Architect. "The building is actually really interesting in that it's 2x8's laid on their side, and the workers were paid by how many nails they could drive in a day just to stack that wood up as high as they could. Inside it is a super structure of 8x8 timber and we’re now working with our engineer trying to save that."

The mill was built in the early 1900's. It was the last one in the town know for a rich milling history. The final harvest was earlier this year.

"The mill donated the first football uniforms to the local sports team, and that’s how Noblesville got its name, the Millers," said Peterson. "So we've got to keep all that history."

"We’re under a very tight time frame, just because of the weather and also some deadlines to submit, but we love to have those stories and any of the history we can save on this site, we love to have that."

"We're in the beginning stages of planning what this can be and the community has been invited to meet with HAND and give input as to what we would like to see and how we would like to see it developed," said Jamieson. "There will be probably one every month where the community is invited and probably the best way to do it is to contact HAND and they can let them know when those meetings will be."

Lichti said, "Now it's really in a public phase where we’re able to gain a lot of input and incorporate community ideas into the re-purposing and redevelopment of this site."

"We’ll know by March whether funding is secured and we’re able to move forward on things and then in about a year we hope to close on funding and start construction. That’s all dependent on how competitive our proposals are, what kind of support we get locally. Ideally, two years from now we’ll be having folks moving in."

"It’s a huge transformational opportunity here in the Southwest Quad of Noblesville, so we’re really excited to engage in that conversation and develop our proposal to go forward. Practicing good stewardship and making investments that have a return on investment for the community is our highest priority."

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