Jasper Cultural Center designs revealed

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Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

“It’s like catching lightning in a bottle,” Jasper Library Director Christine Golden remarked about the nearly $7.4 million available for the creation of the Jasper Cultural Center.

That total is from the $3.42 million in tax credits granted to the project by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation added to the $3.94 million in donations collected through the fundraising campaign, Jasper LEADs.

Of the amount collected by Jasper LEADs, officials are including the $1.7 million matching grant from Jim and Pat Thyen for the creation and support of the Jasper Arts portion of the project. The goal of matching the $1.7 is nearly met.

According to Golden, $712,000 has been directly donated to the Jasper Library’s portion of the project.

With a goal of raising $8 million for the LEADs initiative, the dollars are important as they will lower the amount asked from taxpayers to support the library.

More information on Jasper LEADs can be found at jasperleads.org.

The entire project hinges on the referendum asking taxpayers to allow the library to bond for up to $6.5 million for the project. The question on the ballot will read as follows:

Shall Jasper Public Library issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the construction of and improvements to a facility for use as the Jasper Public Library building, which is estimated to cost not more than $6,500,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by a maximum of $0.0595 per $100 of assessed value?

“We need that vote yes at the referendum,” Jasper Library Board President Dean Vonderheide explained. “Without it, this all goes away. If this all goes away, over $7 million of committed funding goes away. Funding that would not be on the taxpayers. Let’s not lose that.”

To give voters a peek at what could be created downtown, CityVisions unveiled a schematic of the cultural center at a special library arts joint meeting Thursday evening. Their presentation is available below.

About 70 people attended the public meeting and with nary a question or comment in dissent, the plans were unveiled and described by CityVisions principal Barry Alberts and CityVisions architect Ashlyn Ackerman.

Alberts gave an overview of the process that led to the initiative to create the cultural center pointing out that it began when public meetings were held to create the Jasper Downtown + Riverfront Master Plan.

Afterward, Ackerman described the elements featured in the design of the new 61,000 square foot building that will be constructed in place of the former factory at the corner of Mill Street and Third Avenue.

A few features the group pointed out included the potential for a housing in a future phase of the project, a retail area in the former boiler room building and a large shared entry point that can be used for events like weddings and large gatherings. The housing would be located above the north wing of the arts’ portion of the center. This runs adjacent to Fourth Street.

The entire structure and the emergency lane would be built 30 inches above the flood plain, six inches higher than the minimum requirement.

According to Alberts, the design was created around the overall $17 million budget proposed by the combined entities. CityVisions is a division of City Properties Group, the private developer needed to procure the $3.42 million in tax credits for the project. Alberts explained City Properties Group will initially lease the space to the two public entities until the tax credits are used up. Once that is completed, the library and arts would own their portions of the project.

Besides the housing that could be added down the road, the only other retail opportunity offered is in the former boiler room building. It will be the lone remaining original structure on the property and Alberts explained they plan on stabilizing it to be renovated in the future for a retail or restaurant opportunity.

These designs are different than the model revealed last year. That model was based on a renovation of the existing Hoosier Desk structure but due to cost constraints, it was decided that a new building would be more feasible.

More information on the project can be found at www.myjasperlibrary.org.