Hobart's Lake George Commercial Historic District may expand

2013-03-28T19:33:00Z 2013-05-14T20:19:04Z Hobart's Lake George Commercial Historic District may expand Deborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | The Lake George Commercial Historic District may soon be expanding, city officials said.

The Historic Preservation Commission last week approved adding five businesses to the historic district, Commission Administrator Tiffany Tolbert said.

The proposed additions include two businesses in the 200 block of Main Street and three in the 400 block of East 3rd Street, across from the Clock Tower.

"The commission's approval is just a recommendation which must be approved by the City Council," Tolbert said.

The City Council likely will take action on the recommendation sometime in April, Tolbert said.

The city requested to become part of the district. It owns the former Hobart Police Station, 200 Main St., Tolbert said.

The addition of that building and one at 210 Main St. completes that block.

"The buildings on the 400 block of East 3rd Street make up the last commercial block," Tolbert said.

The historical district designation will make the former police station more marketable for sale, City Councilman David Vinzant, D-5th said.

"There have been a few nibbles on the building," Vinzant said.

The historic district designation allows future owners of that building and other commercial businesses to apply for certain incentives, including a facade grant.

"Downtown business owners understand the financial benefits of the facade grants. It's going to get promoted," Vinzant said.

Eleven business owners have taken advantage of city-offered matching grants in the past three years, using the incentives to make repairs and updates, Tolbert said.

Those improvements range from the addition of a new awning to Cafe 339 to major rehabilitation of the 1907 Fiester Building, which now houses the new Von’s Victorian Bakery and Tea Room on Main Street.

The facade grant program was created in 2009 by the Redevelopment Commission, before the City Council approved recommended boundaries for the historic district, Tolbert said.

The district boundaries include the 200 to 400 blocks of Main Street, the 200 to 300 blocks of Center Street and the 500 to 600 blocks of East Third Street.

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