Saturday, January 13, 2007
Silvercrest Can Be Reused
Yesterday was a gloomy Friday. Low clouds hung around all day as rain came and went. It wasn’t the best setting for a state sponsored tour of Silvercrest, but the show went on regardless.
If you are not up to speed on Silvercrest visit http://www.newalbanypreservation.com/ and the local blog world for more information. The short story - It’s a former tuberculosis hospital and child development center. It’s a collection of buildings (campus like) located at 1809 Old Vincennes Road. The main building is over 120,000 square feet. This is an impressive place.
Local press has covered the closure of the child development center, which occurred in May 2006, as well as a county analysis and assessment of the site for some public use. The county interest has waned apparently due to the large scale of the place and high estimated cost of adapting it for reuse.
Talk of demolition had begun.
The state, in an attempt to gauge interest in Silvercrest, held a tour yesterday. About 30 visitors, most seeing it for the first time, poured over the buildings at Silvercrest.
Can it be reused? Yes. Should it be reused? Yes. But it would take some dollars, probably a team of developers, some visionary thinking and maybe some non profit involvement.
A lot of visitors (realtors, contractors, developers, city officials and others) pondered thoughts out loud. What about a corporate campus? That could work. Could you squeeze twenty to thirty residential units in the upper floors? That could work. Is there a market for one bedroom condominiums in the area? Ed Clere of Dragonfly Realty thought so. Would a jogging and hiking path draw visitors up there? Yes it would.
There is one thing that I do know. Prior to yesterday, this site was on the fast track to demolition. The Department of Health had planned to submit a Certificate of Appropriateness to the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board on January 24th. Due to interest in the site during the tour, that won’t happen. Instead, an RFP (Request for Proposal) process will be initiated by the Department of Administration. A net will be thrown out and we’ll see what it catches.
This impressive collection of buildings has received a stay of execution. It is still in grave danger of seeing the wrecking ball. State officials are deeply concerned about the cost and liability that maintaining the site represents to the tax payers of Indiana. June 30th is a date they’d like to have this matter settled. Many are skeptical that represents sufficient time to market the site appropriately.
The successful reuse of Silvercrest represents potential revenue to taxpayers for decades to come. I think keeping the furnace lit and the roofs patched is a small price to pay as the search for a solution is sought. A six month turnaround seems terribly short. We will see.
See CJ coverage at: New Uses Sought for Silvercrest