New Albany to restore historic building to house new city hall - News, Weather & Sports

New Albany to restore historic building to house new city hall

(Source: Katie Bauer/WAVE 3 News) (Source: Katie Bauer/WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - New life is coming soon to three historic properties in downtown. 

On Tuesday, the New Albany Redevelopment Commission approved the plans.

One of the buildings will be fully renovated and become the future home of the brand new city hall. It will be located at the old Reisz Furniture Warehouse Store. 

The historic Reisz building on Main Street was constructed in 1852 and was home to a flour mill. It then served as the Kraft Funeral Home, followed by the M. Fine & Sons shirt factory. The Reisz also served as the home of the Graf Harness and Saddlery Shop was also utilized by the Schmitt Furniture Company.

The building has been vacant for decades. Once it is complete, it will be more than three times the size of the current space leased in the city-county building.

"It's about time the city of New Albany stepped up and did some things to protect our historic structures," Mayor Jeff Gahan said. 

It's a major renovation project that will bring city hall back to Main Street.

"It’s kind of a use or lose it situation for this building," Gahan said. "So thankfully we are in a position to step up to the plate and restore some life to this structure."

Gahan said the city currently rents space from the county building at nearly $190,000 per year.

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"The savings are substantial," Gahan said. "The city of New Albany has spent over $5 million since we have been in that building." 

Gahan said the cost will drop from a little more than $25 per square foot to a little more than $9 per square foot. The city will enter a lease-to-own agreement, which will allow for all city offices to be under one roof.

A little further down on Main Street, the Knights of Columbus is set to receive a new facade.

"I think it could really shine as an asset and highlight the presence of the Knights of Columbus in New Albany, which has had a long standing presence there on Main Street," Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Director Greg Sekula said. 

The Baitey Funeral Home, also known as the Louis Hartman House on State Street, was built in the late 1890s. It was almost demolished after a fire back in January. Now, Indiana Landmarks has a purchase agreement in place and plans to save and restore the property. The group will then relocate its southern regional office from Jeffersonville.

"We see this as a way of helping spur revitalization along the State Street corridor," Sekula said. 

"I think it's a great move for the city and historic preservation and it is a great move for the citizens and city operations," Sekula said. 

At this time, renovations on the new city hall are expected to take about a year and a half to complete.

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