Plans to create riverfront housing along a stretch of the Eel River in the heart of Logansport are moving forward.

Last year, a Carmel-based developer approached city officials about converting the former Logansport Municipal Utilities generating plant in the 800 block of Race Street into housing units.

The power plant at Eighth and Race Streets was shut down in 2016 after succumbing to stricter Environmental Protection Agency guidelines while the water plant to the east closed in 2013 when LMU switched to a well system.

Logansport mayor Dave Kitchell called the area “prime real estate for housing,” which has been a significant need in the community. Both locations are near Riverside Park and downtown and bringing housing there would put the properties on the tax rolls.

Kitchell laid out three ways in which the proposed housing project would be a plus for the city.

“It will allow us to put a property on the property tax rolls that has never been on them, it will help revitalize that neighborhood and it will address a portion of the housing deficit we have in the community,” Kitchell said.

LMU is getting closer to being able to dispose of the property. The only active components left at both sites — a switchgear necessary for LMU’s electric distribution system at the power plant and gas chlorine housed inside the water plant — were moved to a new building and went online April 8.

Now completely vacated, city officials can seek the necessary appraisals along with bids for demolition and remediation.

Deputy mayor Mercedes Brugh was clear, however, that the project is still in its early stages.

“There is still a lot we are trying to understand when it comes to the liability risks that developers will incur when taking on these sites,” Brugh said. “We are very focused on the legal framework for this project. Should we have a bidder that wants to include in their bid taking on the properties — like we’ve already had one express interest in — the city administration would have to get involved as only it has the authority to transfer ownership of the properties.”

City officials are now considering the next steps in ensuring the site can be repurposed for housing. At a recent Utility Service Board meeting, it was announced that Kitchell and LMU superintendent Paul Hartman will meet soon to discuss the project timetable.

Brugh said that at least for her, it’s easy to imagine the views the new housing overlooking the Eel River would provide.

“This would be enormous for our city,” Brugh said. “I can just imagine the view looking out at the river.”

City officials said they hope to see multi-family, single-family, condominiums, town homes or a mix of housing options introduced at the site.

The news of potential housing at the former LMU generating plant comes just 10 days after the city held a groundbreaking ceremony for the ReVere Homes Project that will fund 30 new single-family homes on scattered sites throughout the community.

Additionally, representatives of the city’s housing steering committee agreed to move forward with plans to work with a Fort Wayne developer to add single-family housing to the city-owned properties near the intersection of High Street and Yorktown Road.

Last year, a housing master plan funded by the City Council determined the city has a need for a minimum of 250 new housing units and up to as many as 400 in the coming years. That figure does not include an estimated 40 new market-rate apartments under construction at Logan Square downtown.

According to the study, Yorktown and High properties owned by the city, the former Tipton Elementary School site and downtown Logansport were identified as the first targets for expanded housing in the community.

Discussions also are ongoing regarding potential housing associated with the redevelopment of the Logansport Mall property.

According to Logansport Building Commissioner Deb Beattie’s quarterly report, the number of building permits issued through her office is up 19 percent. Overall construction is up 22 percent over the same period last year.

Reach Quentin Blount at quentin.blount@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130.

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