Van Wert’s revitalization effort seeks to transform downtown

ByShannon J. Cortes

Nov 15, 2021

VAN WERT, Ohio (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – An ambitious downtown revitalization plan is unfolding in this Ohio community. Over 50 older buildings that are in various states of disrepair are expected to be restored at a cost of around $ 100 million in the heart of Van Wert Ohio. The business, called Van Wert Forward, is run by the Van Wert County Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to giving the small community a vibrant downtown. At present, many buildings in the heart of the city are in poor condition.

“We lost a major building, our tallest building downtown a year and a half ago, and so if we didn’t take action, we were going to see this happening over and over again, to the point where our downtown- city ​​.. . it just rots and goes, ”said Seth Baker, CEO of the Van Wert County Foundation.

The foundation plans to pour in nearly $ 20 million of its own money and combine that with historic and new market tax credits and leverage funds from private investors to advance the revitalization effort. Eric Doden, candidate for the race for governor of Indiana in 2024, is a consultant on the Van Wert project. He says what’s being done in the Ohio community could translate into help for small towns in Hoosier State as well.

“We have in Indiana only about two million people who live in cities of 30,000 or less, and therefore a significant portion of your population lives in small towns and they want to see their cities revitalized,” Doden said.

The first phase of Van Wert Forward consists of rehabilitating 11 properties which will eventually house restaurants, shops, offices and apartments.

This opening phase should be completed at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023.

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