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1400 Plaza plans impress preservationists

Mayor Greg York (standing) goes over the latest drawing for the 1400 Plaza project with New Castle Historic Preservation Committee members (left to right) Fred Daniel, Richard McKnight and David Nantz.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

The latest drawings of the downtown 1400 Plaza were shared with the New Castle Preservation Committee Monday night, which learned the time-honored saying “Everything old is new again” applies here.

Featuring bricks from the former Hoosier Antiques building, the plaza now under construction will blend elements of old with new trees, lighting and even a fountain, according to New Castle Mayor Greg York, who showed updated renderings to committee members.

York said while there isn’t enough brick from the former building to do the entire plaza, new brick that is added will look like that of the former Hoosier Antiques store.

“At all the corners we’re going to use the brick out of the antique shop. So we’re trying to keep the new tied with the old,” York said. “With the bathrooms there we will buy brick that blends in.”

Also discussed was coordinated lighting from Central Avenue all the way to Broad Street. York said he envisions an old-fashioned clock at the plaza as well.

Committee members were united in their approval of the plans.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to the downtown to finally see this project completed,” David Nantz said. 

“It’s something the whole community can use,” Richard McKnight said. “It will give a good impression when people come into New Castle to see a new project as opposed to that empty lot that’s been there for several years. I think the plaza will go a long way toward helping the EDC and its efforts because any prospective business coming here will want to know the community cares about its downtown.” 

“I think it helps make the downtown a destination,” Fred Daniel said. “It gives us one more reason to assemble downtown and a place to do it in, a nice place, a place that we can be proud of and every time we have a reason to come downtown. It just reinforces that much more that this is a destination, a place worth going to, it’s where we have fun. And the more people that come down here, the more opportunity there will be for businesses. It all works together.” 

Others on the committee said project has the right blend of attractive features and trees.

“We’re happy that there’s green space involved in it, too,” Val McNelis said. “It sort of ties in with the arts park with the decor.”

“I like the blending of the old and new,” Sam Frost said.

“I’m glad all the money was able to come together,” Scott Frost said. “I appreciate all the people who worked on that part of it.”

The project is being funded with New Castle Redevelopment Commission money generated through the downtown tax increment financing district. York said the local project is going to be done far cheaper than some others he’s seen across Indiana, like Lebanon, recently featured on Indianapolis TV.

“Their budget is like $6-8 million,” York said. “Our budget is right at $2 million and I think we can build it for less than that. The city is going to put water and sewer in. Our city employees are doing a ton work. They’ve done all the demo and are doing a lot of the underground work.”

Decorative rocks planned will be a popular spot for children, the mayor predicted. “Kids will gravitate toward them and climb on them,” he said.

McKnight said he was eager for the calming sound of water flowing from the fountain.

While there are naysayers, the committee agreed with York that this project will have heads turning.

“This time next year, I hope a lot of people have smiles on their faces,” York said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”