Quiet Vine Street rising back to life

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — The Vine Street industrial area, mostly vacant after once pumping life into Jasper’s manufacturing foundation, is slowly coming back to life.

Companies are expanding, utilizing the huge buildings of former factories south of East 15th Street that have been dormant for years.

Cash and Waggner & Associates is the latest company to invest in the area. The Jasper-based engineering and land surveying firm has bought the 300,000-square-foot building at 402 E. 13th St. The building, which sits at the northwest corner of Vine and 13th streets, used to house Jofco before the company merged with Jasper Group and moved to Clay Street in 2013. Cash and Waggner co-owner Nathan Waggner said his company plants to invest $250,000 plus equipment to renovate 10,000 square feet for the firm and its subsidiary company, Testing & Inspection Services.

The companies have run out of rental space at their Third Avenue location. Space will not be a problem at the new site.

“The space is there; it is plenty of space for use to expand in,” Waggner said. “And we own it all, so we can use as much of it as we want and need.”

Cash and Waggner hopes to obtain a tax abatement for the project. The Jasper Common Council will review the abatement request at its meeting tonight. The Jasper Economic Development Commission has recommended that the abatement be for nine years. If approved by the council tonight, the abatement would cover 70,000 square feet of office space, including the original 10,000 square feet.

The firm plans to use the rest of the building in the future, but hasn’t determined how that will be done.

“We want to finalize some plans for our space and develop the rest. We’re kicking around ideas of renting space to other companies,” Waggner said. “We are trying to determine a master plan for the rest of that property.”

Moving into an existing building at Vine seemed ideal for the company.

“We want to help spark development there and utilize an existing building,” Waggner said. “Moving into an existing, well-kept building was also more cost effective than trying to construct something new.”

Todd Fromme is glad a new neighbor is moving into the industrial neighborhood. The owner of Universal Technologies has been in the neighborhood since 2011, when he moved into a 22,000-square-foot building at 12th and Vine in 2011. He bought the 90,000-square-foot building next door last July. The buildings used to house an Indiana Cabinet plant and loading dock.

“I want to talk to them about their future ideas and my ideas,” Fromme said of Cash and Waggner. “We all should work together to bring this area to life.”

Universal Technologies creates custom plastic pieces used by furniture companies on their products.

Fromme has continued his building renovations. He has also moved from his original 22,000-square-foot space north to the 90,000-square-foot spot. Universal Technologies’ move was completed in January.

“We’re really busy, so I can’t devote the whole day to (the renovations),” Fromme said. “We fill our orders first and then we work on the building.”

He is now using 30,000 square feet of the space and prepping another 20,000 to be available for rent.

“We’re pecking away at it slowly,” Fromme said. “We rewired the electric and replaced the gas lines and we’re hauling out materials. Going into the summer, we’re going to work on the front entrance.”

Fromme has added a computer-controlled cutting machine to fill specialized orders.

“We’re doing well here,” he said. “I’ve added a full-time guy to run the (computerized) machine.”

Fromme is renting his previous space to A&R Machines, which plans to move in by May 1. A&R supplies sanding and finishing machines and accessories to manufacturing companies, including nearby factories.

Company owner Angie Buffenbarger said her company needs more space than is available at its current location at the northwest corner of Vine and Ninth Street.

“This has been a real good starting place for us,” she said, “but we’ve outgrown the space.”
Buffenbarger hoped to keep the company in the Vine Street area.

“We like this,” she said of the new location. “It is closer to our customer base. Our customers are our neighbors. This will be a nice building to grow in.”

From the street, the upgrades aren’t all noticeable, Fromme acknowledged. The average passerby or driver probably isn’t enticed to stop. Still, there is progress.

“Vine won’t change much on the outside, not yet,” he said. “Right now, all the change is happening on the inside.”

Contact Candy Neal at cneal@dcherald.com.

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