NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – A fire Saturday night destroyed a historic New Albany building. The former Moser Leather Company, once a busy tannery now sits in ruins. The former Moser tannery has belonged to the city for two years now, purchased as part of a larger parcel of land for the Loop Island Wetlands Project, which would restore greenspace along the river. Despite the fire, the city said the plans to create an entrance to the planned Ohio River Greenway will continue without the building.
"We hate to lose those types of structures, right? But when they're gone, they're gone," said New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan. Gahan was one of the many outside the former Moser Leather Company Saturday night as the building went up in flames.
He watched as the roof collapsed before him. "When I got here, it was pretty clear that it would be pretty tough for it to survive," Gahan said. The fire department is investigating what caused this weekend's fire. The former tannery has seen multiple fires in years past.
For years, the building has sat empty.
The city has owned it for two years, bought as part of a land parcel that would create an entrance to the Ohio River Greenway project, which would connect New Albany to Clarksville and beyond. Now, the entrance and overall greenway project will continue on.
“The debris will be removed and this will serve as the entrance to Loop Island. That's the plan right now. It'll be spruced up a little bit," Gahan said.
That greenway project is nearing completion, creating trails that connect the downtown across Silver Creek, stretching further from there. The mayor said they were hoping to see the building here restored as part of a historic redevelopment project.
Now, he said, once the remains of the tannery have been cleared away, there is potential for a greenspace to greet travelers coming in to connect to trails and the region. “This pathway between New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville and Louisville, it's really a jewel and we're lucky to have it," Gahan said.
Gahan said the city was taking requests for proposals, to see if anyone was interested in restoring the tannery. For now, the city will look to make this area a greenspace but he said they will continue accepting proposals to see if someone now wants to build something new in the spot.