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Additional funding requested for UB project

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@h-ponline.com

Officials involved in the UB Building renovation requested additional funding from the Huntington County Board of Commissioners, at their meeting Monday, asking for nearly $200,000 in total.

Jonathan Anderson, the project attorney and developer, was present at the meeting. He told the commissioners they are roughly 35 to 40 percent through with construction, and expect to open in the spring.

Anderson said along the way, they have run into unforeseen costs, since they’ve had to do a lot of drilling through bedrock to get to sewer and water connections, as well as create an elevator pit.

Following an approval of $100,000 for the project, Anderson requested that they receive an additional $100,000. He said they originally mentioned needing an additional $50,000 when he talked with them in 2017, but he was told to come back in 2018 to revisit that request.

Though they said they liked the project and Tom Wall said he commends Anderson for his work, they were not entirely on board with giving an additional $100,000.

“$100,000 in an $8 million project is not a lot, I think and I know it’s 200,000 with the initial – but it’s spread over four years, it’s right across from the court house, you see the kind of work that we’re doing over there and how aggressive we’re being with it,” Anderson said.

Anderson added that they didn’t anticipate having to dig trenches for the sewer and water lines the way they did, adding those aforementioned unforeseen costs that they wouldn’t have been able to know about until they started jackhammering.

Wall said the city has already invested $3.1 million and they had just approved giving $100,000 to add to the grants the project has received elsewhere, but they have other needs in the county to consider, including economic development.

In addition to that concern, the need for parking at the building was brought up for discussion. Anderson, however, said parking is not something to be concerned about at this point. He said that people can walk a couple of blocks to get there and he often has conversations about parking when working on projects like this one.

Wall said people have asked about parking before and he said that a parking problem shows there is a vibrant downtown and things are going well. He then referenced the parking problem at the courthouse, saying courthouse employees often park where they are not supposed to, taking away from parking for taxpayers.

He went on to say that even if parking is a good problem to have, it’s something that needs discussed.

“I would say it’s better to have a parking problem than to have a sea of parking lots downtown because parking lots kill downtowns,” Anderson explained.

Anderson concluded by taking the commissioners on a tour of the building, amongst the bustle of construction.

He explained they are going to try to restore some of the original hardwood floors that used to be layered with carpet, some of the space will have loft apartments with spiral staircases -- one of which will even have a large stained glass window that already decorates the building. Anderson also said they are wanting to keep some original windows.

Two apartments have also been added to the project bringing it to a total of 37 apartments.

Some apartments are already framed.

At the end of the discussion, commissioner Rob Miller said they want to talk amongst themselves and revisit the request.

“I like the project but we’ve only got a certain amount of money to allocate for projects,” Miller said.

The next commissioners meeting will take place on Aug. 20.