City hopes to rehabilitate former gas station site

Photo courtesy Google Maps


HUNTINGBURG — The City of Huntingburg is trying to do something with a former gas station on U.S. 231 that has been empty for years.

The property at 802 N. Main St. is being considered for the state’s Blight Clearance Program. The site is known as the former Dairyland gas station and Shell Oil building, and has three buildings.

The Blight Clearance Program is done through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and offers up to $500,000 that can be used to acquire and rehabilitate a property; it requires a 10% match. An environmental assessment must be done first, Lisa Gehlhausen of Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission told the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday night.

Once the assessment is done, the city would get what is called a comfort letter, stating that it is not responsible for any contamination on the site. After that, a 50-year title search is done, and the costs for acquiring the property and demolishing the buildings will be figured, including an appraisal of the property. The city would also have to get an option to purchase the site from the owner and ultimately declare the site as a blighted area. All that information will be included in the city’s application to OCRA, Gehlhausen said.

“Before we go into the grant, we will know the costs,” she said. “If we see the project is more than the $500,000, we would have to discuss this again.”

If the grant is awarded, the city can move forward with buying the property and demolishing the buildings.

“All of this will take some time,” Gehlhausen said. “It could be the end of 2021 before we see the project being done.”

As part of the grant agreement, the city must keep the property clear as open space for five years. After that, the city can do what it wants with the property, Gehlhausen said. If something is done with the property before the five years are completed, she said, the city would have to give the state back a percentage of the grant money.

“Five years isn’t that long, considering how long that has been sitting there,” Councilman Steve McPherron said.

The council agreed to pursue the idea, and hired ATC to do the environmental study for $1,800.

Mayor Denny Spinner said the property’s owner is willing to cooperate with the plan. The property sits in the Main Street Corridor, which is something the city has been looking at developing. That will likely be in the city’s updated comprehensive plan, “Your Home - Your Huntingburg,” which the council will receive at its next meeting, Spinner said.

The council also:
Transferred surplus funds from the electric and natural gas utilities to the city’s general fund, which is done annually.
Purchased 60, 40-foot wooden poles from Brown Equipment for $21,660.

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