Historic district process requires many steps

2013-10-15T19:15:00Z 2013-10-15T23:33:12Z Historic district process requires many stepsChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
October 15, 2013 7:15 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | The creation of a historic district in Merrillville involves many steps, but town leaders associated with the process are ready to move forward.

"They're moving really fast," said Taghi Arshami, of The Arsh Group.

Appointing a Historic Preservation Commission in Merrillville is part of the process, Arshami said.

The commission would be made up of five residents, who would serve staggered terms, Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said.

Adopting an ordinance which would set the boundaries for the historic district also is necessary, Arshami said. Merrillville officials have proposed the boundary to encompass an area on 73rd Avenue from Mississippi Street to Van Buren Street.

Arshami said a historic district application must be submitted for state approval, and the town will need to establish a plan for improvements in the district.

Arshami said Merrillville had pursued a historic district several years ago, and a plan had been created at that time.

He said the town will not be "rehashing" items from the previous plan.

"We want to see results," Arshami said.

Features in the new historic district plan could include landscaping, decorative street lights and the addition of sidewalks where they don't currently exist.

Improving the historic district area would create opportunities for redevelopment and new businesses, Arshami said.

Another goal of the historic district would be to establish preservation guidelines to promote the maintenance of properties in the district.

Arshami said the guidelines would provide an "additional level of code enforcement" in the historic district.

If Merrillville had such guidelines in place earlier, it could have prevented the dilapidation of some structures, town officials said.

Pettit referred to the former Merrill-Pierce house that was built in the late 1800s.

The building, which was located on 73rd Avenue near Madison Street, had been abandoned for several years before it had to be demolished in 2010 because of its declining condition.

"This should have never happened," Pettit said.

The house was considered one of the most significant historical structures in Merrillville because of its ties to the Merrill-Pierce family.

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