downtown revitalization

Economic rebirth in Indiana downtowns can be a two-way street – literally.

Hoosier cities are spending millions to convert one-way main streets into two-way arteries.

The change can help boost the local economy, but it can also be hard on small businesses, like the one John von Erdmansdorff runs in West Lafayette.

Von Erdmansdorff is a local legend who’s spent almost 50 years selling all kinds of treasures out of his row of stores, Von’s Shops, on State Street.

As places such as East Chicago, Indiana, grapple with lead contamination, they face a challenge for after cleanup: how to redevelop and revitalize once-toxic neighborhoods.

In Evansville, community leaders have used decades of remediation to their advantage.

In what was once the most-contaminated part of the city’s Jacobsville Neighborhood Superfund site, a vacant lot sits waiting.

“So as we’re standing here right now, we’re standing where Garfield Commons will be,” says Chris Metz, assistant director of Evansville’s ECHO Housing Corporation.

City of Frankfort

To complete a new vision for Frankfort’s downtown, the city and county will have to find $10-20 million .

But first, say some consultants who recently completed a report on that redesign, the city has a number of cosmetic challenges to overcome.

This week on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, we talk to Frankfort’s Chris McBarnes about where he hopes to get the money and what needs to be cleaned up first.

Courtesy John Perlich

State officials have approved the first projects for funding from the Regional Cities Initiative and could approve dozens more in the coming weeks.

The three approved so far are in the Northeast region, which is taking a different approach to the planning process than its counterparts in North Central and Southwest Indiana.

Lafayette Mayor's Office

Much has already been written about Lafayette revamping its downtown Main Street this year – a project aimed at beautification and at luring more business to the area.

But this week on Ask The Mayor, we find out whether certain business owners are getting more bang for their buck than others are the new amenities are installed.

Also on this week's show: Amtrak officials are in Lafayette today to talk about improvements to the Hoosier State line.

JD Gray/WTIU

North Central Indiana is hoping new state funds and collaborations will help attract workers and diversify local economies.

That's especially challenging in Elkhart, known as the recreational vehicle capital of the world -- and the city with the nation's highest unemployment rate during the recession.

Now, the RV industry is booming -- but that's created problems of its own.

Annie Ropeik/Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana towns have a new priority when it comes to driving population growth and improving their economies: their downtowns. The Regional Cities Initiative is Indiana's first major, direct funding boost for those -- but it's just the latest in a string of public and private investments.

In the first part of an occasional series on Hoosier downtowns, Indiana Public Broadcasting's Annie Ropeik reports on the push to modernize Main Street.

 

Chris Morisse Vizza

Amid the dust and slow moving construction equipment, downtown Lafayette visitors will see bright orange and blue signs emblazoned with the message “Open For Business.”

It's the heart of a city-led marketing campaign to keep customers and merchants informed -- and concerns to a minimum -- as crews widen sidewalks and install decorative lighting, planters and other amenities on sections of Main Street.

City of Frankfort

The city of Frankfort has taken its transition to police body cameras slowly. But when it comes to police sharing information on social media, the city jumped right in last month.

On this edition of Ask The Mayor, we chat with Mayor Chris McBarnes about whether there are any of the same privacy concerns on Twitter that there are about video of traffic stops.

City of Lafayette / lafayette.in.gov

Some questions for the mayor this week:

Lafayette and West Lafayette recently signed a proclamation decrying domestic violence. But what I want to know is what the city is actually doing – what resources are you investing to reduce the incidence of it?

What's the latest is on the talks to create the one-stop center for social services that was mentioned a few months ago. Is that any closer to fruition?

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