By Joseph Slacian
The Wabash Board of Zoning Appeals gave Wabash Marketplace Inc. the go-ahead to create one ground-level and two basement apartments in the Bradley Building, 5 W. Canal St., in downtown Wabash.
The three apartments are part of 11 affordable housing apartments planned for the building, located on the southwest corner of Canal and Wabash streets.
WMI had to go before a special meeting of the BZA because city ordinance doesn’t allow street-level or basement apartments in the downtown area. Because of that, WMI needed a variance for the three apartments.
The urgency, WMI Executive Director Steve Downs noted, is because the organization is seeking an $830,000 grant from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
The project has a $1.8 million price tag, he said. WMI hopes to use grants to help pay for the project, but Downs added that a local bank has agreed to help finance the project if needed.
The ground-floor apartment will be in the southwest corner of the building, while the basement apartments will be in the southwest and southeast corners of the structure, he said.
The remainder of the ground floor will have two commercial spaces, while the remainder of the basement will be used for tenant storage and laundry space.
“I, for one, don’t like to see apartments on first floors,” Downs told BZA members. “I certainly don’t like to see them on the street side. These are what we think best utilize the space by putting them there.
“The front of the building is not going to have any evidence that there’s an apartment there. There’s just going to be a door.”
The top two floors of the building will have four apartments each.
Questioned by the board, Downs said there will be four or five parking spots behind the building. Those needing long-term parking will be urged to park in city-owned lots on East Canal Street.
WMI owns both the Bradley Building and the Bedford Building, located across the street from Wabash City Hall on South Wabash Street. The agency, under order of the Wabash Board of Public Works and Safety, must refurbish the buildings.
It purchased the properties last year from California resident Julie Locke. Locke purchased the two structures in 2015 from former owner Jack Francis.
Downs said the plans for the Bradley Building are designed to stop the building from falling into further disrepair, in case the agency can’t sell the structure.
“Between this and the Bedford Building, if we lose these two buildings, we don’t have a Plan B,” Downs said.
A sale is pending on the Bedford Building, Downs said, adding that he hopes WMI will close on the sale sometime in the near future.