KENDALLVILLE — Kendallville now officially has an architect hired to design its $2 million facade project downtown and at a cost significantly lower than the original number floated for design services.
On Tuesday, the Kendallville Board of Works and Public Safety ratified a contract with Fort Wayne-based MartinRiley, an architecture firm that specializes in historic restoration projects.
That’s exactly what Kendallville is hoping to do with its $2 million PreservINg Main Street grant, which MartinRiley will now help design, estimate and put out to bid.
Kendallville Main Street Manager Kristen Johnson said the grant’s steering committee received seven requests for proposals for architecture firms after putting that call out within the last few months, then interviewed three firms.
MartinRiley rose to the top of those finalists.
“It seemed like a really good fit for us, so I think they’re going to be great,” Johnson said.
“Ninety-five percent of the business they do is historic preservation,” Board of Works President Jim Dazey noted.
The contract amount, which includes design work for the facades and the cost estimation, will run $66,625 total, about 3.33% of the total $2 million grant.
City officials had originally said design work could take up as much as $200,000 of the grant amount, so the design contract coming in much lower means there will be additional money available for actual construction work.
Kendallville likely has more work than it has money to fund. A total of 25 buildings were submitted for consideration as part of the $2 million grant, doubling the initial expectations of city leaders.
The grant committee went through a scoring procedure and selected their Top 10 projects to be first in line for funding. If additional money appears like it will be available, more buildings will be added into the project.
Building owners have to provide a 15% match to get 85% of their project cost funded, so the potential total construction budget may top $2 million overall.
The city may hold back a percentage for contingency — surprises, especially in projects involving buildings more than 100 years old are to be expected — so the final dollar value of improvements is not set in stone, although will end up somewhere around that $2 million total.
Once the city has a roster of projects, it will put them all together into one package and put that out to public bid, selecting one contractor to complete the total package of work.
Kendallville hopes to bid the project by May with construction work possible yet this summer.
It’s unclear what will become of any buildings that get cut out of the grant due to lack of funding, although the Kendallville Redevelopment Commission expressed initial openness to helping fund additional work if the grant funds don’t cover everything.
The PreservINg Main Street grant is a pilot program of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Kendallville was one of two winners of a $2 million grant after being selected as one of 25 communities that applied that was narrowed to five finalists.
OCRA’s hopes for the grant is not only to focus on historic restoration of Indiana downtowns, but also to potentially spur new growth and redevelopment in affected communities. Kendallville and the other grant winner, Brookville, will become examples for future grant cycles as to what communities can accomplish via the grant.