by Barbara King, North Vernon Plain Dealer
To date, most of the renovation work in the historic area north of the CSX tracks has been relegated to masonry repair and window replacement, which is pretty subtle. For example, the huge window of the Lucas building adjacent to the Plain Dealer & Sun has been replaced and the newspaper office itself has had its brick front fixed up.
Most of the Uptown work completed may prompt one to wonder what all the fuss is about.
However, according to project architect Ben Johnson of the Indianapolis-based firm Ratio, all that is about to change with commencement of some paint.
Standing in front of Right Auto Parts and Riki Bright’s photography business on Fifth Street, Johnson pointed out how such a simple update will really transform the two businesses.
The current paint design makes it appear the two businesses are housed in separate structures.
The decorative designs on the building have, for the most part, been obscured. Half the design is covered by a coat of blue and white paint while the other half is covered by two colors of paint which do nothing to enhance and show off the design.
According to Johnson, the new paint work will restore the decorative nature of the structure.
A total of 24 buildings in the downtown area and Uptown area of North Vernon are participating in the facade program which will complete approximately $725,000 worth of upgrades to the fronts of businesses along Walnut and Fifth Streets and East O&M Avenue.
While most of the work has been centered north of the CSX tracks thus far, masonry work has been ongoing in the southern area, too, as contractors wait for supplies, etc.
Participating property owners must provide a match of 5 percent of the work to be completed on their storefronts.
Overseeing the project is local Bradshaw Building Specialties, which also won Stellar contracts for Stellar Plaza and the Carnegie Building transformation.