Plans to restore Reisz Furniture building on hold

Published: May. 17, 2018 at 10:49 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2018 at 8:51 PM EDT
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Downtown New Albaby. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Downtown New Albaby. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – Plans for a new city hall that would save a historic property in New Albany are being delayed.

The City council was supposed to vote Thursday night on a plan that would restore Reisz Furniture building. That vote will be delayed after the bill's sponsor pulled the plan off the meeting agenda, likely for more discussion amongst the council.

The building has been vacant for years.

Many in the community are hesitant of the plan that would cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Others say it helps the city while alleviating the downtown of a longstanding eyesore.

"Yeah, it's a very exciting time for New Albany," said Mayor Jeff Gahan, speaking about the developments and projects underway in the community.

The projects are expanding the community while redeveloping parts of historic downtown.

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One project before city council would allow Denton Floyd Developers to restore the historic Reisz Furniture building and make it their city council building – finding a balance between the old and new around town.

"So I think that's really important. So we don't want to lose the fiber, the historic feel that New Albany has," Gahan said.

Community members like Pat Harrison say a new city hall is needed.

"The city hall itself is overloaded. There are so many offices that are just doing way more than they should in that office, they need more privacy to do their job. So I feel like with all this coming, it's going to be the best thing to happen in New Albany," said Pat Harrison, a longtime community member of New Albany.

Council president Al Knable said he hasn't supported the proposal because government should be facilitating these projects, not paying for them directly. That money may be better spent elsewhere, he said, like on infrastructure improvements.

"Financially, you're looking at a deal now that without interest is in the five and a half million dollar range, with interest probably exceeding eight million dollars over 15 years. So when you look at where else that money could flow in the community, is that the best place? Do you want to put all your eggs in one nest for the next 15 years?" Knable said.

He said the city should to look at other sites and options for city hall.

"If it takes another 30 days to get a solution that everyone is comfortable with, I think that's time well spent," Knable said.

If the city moves forward with the plan, developer Denton Floyd estimates it will take 14 months to restore.  The bill that was taken off the agenda ahead of Thursday night's meeting is expected to come back before city council in the coming weeks.

We reached out to Denton Floyd about the plans to restore the Reisz Furniture building, developer Brandon Denton sent back a statement that says, "Denton Floyd Real Estate Group is very excited about the Reisz Furniture adaptive reuse project.

We are obviously hoping for a positive decision from City Council tonight so that we can finally begin the 14 month extensive renovation of this historic building. We feel that saving this building is extremely important as it will eliminate a longstanding blight in the heart of downtown New Albany, encourage more private development in the surrounding area, and provide a much needed asset for the City that the citizens of New Albany will own."

On Friday it was announced that the vote on the lease agreement isn't expected to happen until July.

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