Townhomes to be built on former library property

Christine Stephenson/The Herald
The Jasper Redevelopment Commission voted Tuesday to tear down the old Jasper Public Library property and build 18 high-end townhomes in its place. The goal of the townhomes is to attract young families and individuals to the downtown area, developer Ruger Kerstiens said.


JASPER — The Jasper Redevelopment Commission approved a plan Tuesday to build townhomes on the old Jasper Public Library property. The former library was located at 1116 Main St.

A group of 18 high-end townhomes, which will be named Library Square, will be constructed by Kerstiens Homes and Designs.

The two-bedroom townhomes will be 1,100 square feet and available to rent with a proposed rate of $1,150 per month, developer Ruger Kerstiens said at the redevelopment commission meeting. The minimum project investment will be $2 million.

The main goal of the townhomes is to attract young families and individuals and increase rental units in the downtown area, which are both high priorities in the Impact Jasper Comprehensive Plan. The Indiana Uplands Regional Housing Study also specifies a strong demand for high-end rentals, Kerstiens said.

“This project will be one of a kind in Jasper,” Kerstiens said. “I do believe it’s the perfect northern anchor for the Heart of Jasper district and can also be a catalyst for future developments in the area.”

Additionally, the homes will capture 2% tax revenue, as opposed to a traditional residential community, where it would capture 1%.

Several residents who live and work near the old library space expressed concern at the meeting about parking and congestion in the area. Some roads in the area can already only fit one car down the road at a time due to street parking. Kerstiens’ townhomes would ideally add 35 to 45 new residents to the area, he said.

A parking lot will be built behind the buildings and there will be additional parking spaces off 11th and 12th streets, Kerstiens said. Parking along Main Street by Snaps will not be altered.

Another concern some residents expressed was how the townhomes will look compared to the historic homes in nearby neighborhoods. Rebekah Hall, who lives on Main Street, said almost all the other houses around her are at least 60 years old and have a certain historic look to them. Her home was built in the early 1900s.

“People have spent a lot of time and money trying to keep it preserved,” she said. “(The townhomes) need to look like they belong.”

Only basic renderings of the townhomes have been created so far, Kerstiens said, and each townhome will be able to have its exterior modified to look unique from one another. However, exterior modifications may be kept to a minimum for some so the townhome can remain relatively affordable.

“Looking into the future, whenever things are knocked down and or rebuilt, I can’t say for certain that many people are going to be able to afford to build back that Victorian home,” Kersteins said. “Do we want it to blend in the best that we can? Yes. Is it going to blend in exactly with the other homes in there? No.”

The commission decided between Kerstiens’ townhomes and a project proposal from Pfaff Construction to build eight single-family homes. Ultimately, members voted 3-2 for the townhomes.

“I look at the Redevelopment Commission as what’s the long-term best interest of Jasper,” commission member John Kahle said. “What we have a need for is an ability to house people in this community, and the townhomes present that best option.”

The commission also:

• Approved a resolution to adopt guidelines on participation at meetings through electronic communication. Those participating over Zoom will now be able to comment at meetings.

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