Firm hired to craft Goshen's new Downtown River District Revitalization Plan

March 4, 2022

GOSHEN — A firm has now been chosen to oversee the creation of a new Downtown River District Revitalization Plan for the city.

During their meeting Tuesday afternoon, Goshen Redevelopment Commission members voted in favor of hiring Elkhart-based consulting firm Jones Petrie Rafinski (JPR) to craft the plan at a cost of $75,000.

According to Becky Hutsell, redevelopment project manager for the city, the area being targeted for the plan encompasses approximately four city blocks and includes the area west of Third Street, north of Lincoln Avenue, south of Pike Street and east of the river.

Hutsell noted that there are three vacant lots located within the target area that she feels are primed for redevelopment, one of which includes the former Elkhart County jail property.

In addition to the former jail site, there is also an area of vacant land located on West Lincoln Avenue, near the river, as well as the site of a former dry-cleaner located west of Pleasant Avenue and Pike Street.

With their selection Tuesday, JPR will now be tasked with crafting an overall vision for the four-block area’s future development by helping to identify catalytic projects, explore what the city’s market can support, etc., Hutsell explained.

SELECTION PROCESS

A total of four firms submitted proposals for the project. In addition to JPR, they included: ms consultants, inc. of Indianapolis; The Lakota Group of Chicago; and Abonmarche Consultants of Goshen.

Hutsell noted that following receipt of the proposals, a nine-member review committee consisting of city staff, commission members and other project stakeholders participated in scoring the proposals based upon the criteria set forth in the RFP.

“After the scoring was completed, it was determined that we were going to interview the top two scoring firms,” Hutsell told the commission. “Those interviews were conducted this morning, and after our interviews our group met and is making the recommendation that we proceed with negotiating and executing a contract with JPR for the project. They have been the primary consultant for Elkhart’s River District plan, and have demonstrated through both their proposal and their success with the Elkhart project that they understand the work that is needed to develop a successful plan for Goshen’s Downtown River District.”

JPR’s hiring was approved in a vote of 4-1 in favor. Commission member Tom Stump issued the sole “No” vote, noting that he felt the city should have gone with Abonmarche, given that the company is located in Goshen.

Hutsell noted that work on the plan should begin immediately and have a six-month timeline for completion.

NEW FIRE STATION

Also Tuesday, commission members approved a request by Hutsell for permission to issue a request for proposals seeking firms interested in preparing a New South Fire Station study for the city. The city’s South Fire Station is currently located at 1203 College Ave.

“The commission’s Five-Year Capital Plan includes funding to design a new south fire station and also to contribute toward the construction of the new facility. There is $200,000 allocated toward design for 2020 and $2.5 million toward construction for 2022,” Hutsell said in introducing the request Tuesday, noting that her department has identified a site along Dierdorff Road, near the intersection of Greencroft Drive, as a top choice for the station’s relocation. “In advance of full project design, an RFP has been developed to evaluate the proposed site along Dierdorff, develop a Program of Requirements for the elements to be included in the new facility, and then develop a final schematic design with cost estimates for the desired station. The final study documents will then guide the full design and construction of the new south station.”

All in all, Hutsell said the purpose of the study will be to evaluate new locations for the existing south station, including benefits to the services provided based upon selected location, identification of the desired elements to be incorporated, and site design for the preferred site, including development of a site plan, building design and associated cost estimates.

With her request approved, Hutsell indicated that the RFP will be issued immediately with receipt of all proposals due back to the commission by Oct. 12.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, commission members:

• Approved the sale of a commission-owned residential property at 65736 Ind. 15 to Nathan and Amber Butler at a purchase price of $50,000.

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