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Historic downtown building to make way for new "East Village"

The owners of the building where R&M Food Market used to be have big plans for the east end of Main Street in Lafayette.

Posted: Jan. 16, 2018 5:29 PM
Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 6:25 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The owners of the building where R&M Food Market used to be have big plans for the east end of Main Street in Lafayette.

Demolishing that building could help them create a new "East Village."

Across the street from East End Grill and next door to Fuel Coffee Shop sits an empty building.

And even through the frosted windows, a yellow sign that reads "intent to demolish an historic building" is visible.

But Tim Balensiefer sees things differently.

"We're looking at an opportunity to help this part of town grow," said Balensiefer.

He's part of Bearing Point development, the company that owns the building.

And because it's listed as historic property, they had to apply for permission to demolish.

They got the approval in December.

"There is a 60-day delay in doing any kind of demo and we really don't plan on demo-ing until we're really, have a plan in front of the historic commission that everybody can embrace," said Balensiefer.

Assistant Director of Economic Development, John Collier sees why Lafayette Historic Preservation voted five to two in favor of taking down the building.

"It's a one story building so it does stand out as unique and a little different," said Collier.

The 1920's structure doesn't match the buildings around it.

And Collier says it isn't in the best shape.

"The architectural features of the building are no longer there and that there aren't a lot of significant features even when the building was original," said Collier. "I would say that there's an opportunity to re-establish or establish a mixed-use development in the neighborhood."

That's what Balensiefer and his partners are looking to do.

"Retail on the main floor and residential use on the upper floors," said Balensiefer.

His goal is to get more people living on the east end of Main Street.

He said, "It's just a different vibe that we're trying to go for on this end of town..."

And his vision?

"...we'd like to see everyone from the 9th street to the 11th street corridor kind of create some type of East Village is what we like to look at it as," said Balensiefer.

He says ideally they would like to be ready for demolition at the beginning of summer.

Of course, all of those plans have to be approved by the historic preservation.

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