Kathy Hall, President, Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR)
Fortville Action Inc., a volunteer run organization aimed at strengthening and promoting Fortville, Indiana, worked with the town to close off an alleyway from vehicular traffic in order to transform the space into a pedestrian friendly walkway and destination in the heart of downtown.
The community then approached the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR) with their plan to beautify the space, which connects public parking and the Farmer’s Market space to Main Street. The plan included the installation of benches, planters and public art. The benches will provide a pleasant place for workers and residents to sit, eat lunch, and enjoy fresh air as well an esthetically pleasing place to walk to and from the public parking areas. Large decorative planters will be used as barricades to prevent vehicular traffic from entering the alley and bring natural element to the otherwise dull space. MIBOR received funding from NAR’s Placemaking Micro-grant to help to make this gathering space happen.
Fortville became an Indiana Main Street community in 2012 and is currently experiencing a renaissance. Several buildings on Main Street are currently undergoing extensive renovations. The creation of this new walkway and gathering place will help connect the Main Street from the public parking lot and will encourage business owners to locate in Fortville knowing there will be adequate, accessible parking and safe passage. The community has already drawn investors to buy and renovate buildings and rent storefronts. Main Street has seen a flourishing of new businesses.
As new businesses, festivals and increased activity continue to take place on Main Street, outdoor seating and gathering areas like this one will become an important part of the Main Street culture. And, having quaint, inviting spaces plays an important part in drawing unique businesses to the town.
And the space is already being used. The 5th Annual Fortville Winter Festival was held on December 6, 2014. The festival was created to bring life back to the town’s struggling and dated Main Street. One objective was to draw people to downtown to showcase the unique storefronts that are available for small businesses in addition to bringing people together to celebrate the season in the traditional center of town and recreate a nostalgic atmosphere. While not completely finished, the alleyway served as a centerpiece for the Christmas trees display during the Festival.
Spring of 2015 will signal the completion of the project with the final installations of planters, benches and selections of public art. Local REALTORS® have enjoyed being a part of this transformation and note how the energy of the once blighted space has already been elevated.
NAR’s Placemaking Micro-grant helped add to the aesthetics, property values and spirit of this quintessential Indiana Main Street. You might want to see how the grant can help revitalize your Main Street.