Council makes 14th Street Decision

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Council makes 14th Street decision

Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2017 6:00 am

It’s not clear when the 100 block of S. 14th Street will be re-opened to traffic, but when it does, it will be open to two-way traffic while still allowing for an area where patrons of the businesses located on the ground floor of the L.A. Jennings Building can wait for a seat inside or enjoy a drink or meal at an outside table.

At Monday’s meeting of the New Castle City Council, council member Rex Peckinpaugh said that in order for an engineer to come up with a plan for the design of the proposed 1400 Plaza, a determination needs to be made about the future of the one block stretch of 14th Street that has been closed since May 2014.

“I just want to make a motion that when 14th Street between Race and Broad street re-opens that it will be open to two-way traffic and be curved out away from the Jennings Building, with the north and south intersections remaining where they are,” Peckinpaugh said.

Council member Aaron Dicken immediately seconded Peckinpaugh’s motion.

“I think it will help whoever’s planning to know this is what the council thinks and wants and therefore we can go from there, instead of trying to come up with two or three plans and wasting time and money to come up with those plans,” Peckinpaugh added.

Council member Lynn Perdue questioned the idea of limiting the options presented to the council to only one set of plans and Peckinpaugh responded by saying if Perdue didn’t think that was a good idea, he could vote against the motion on the floor.

In a roll call vote, the motion passed 5 to 1 with Perdue voting against it. Council member Mary Brewington was absent.

When the New Castle Board of Works closed the street three years ago, it was stated the street would remain closed until the renovation of the Jennings Building was complete. To date, 20 apartments on the second and third floors of the building have been renovated and are now occupied.

There hasn’t been signs of much recent activity with respect to renovating the ground floor and basement areas of the structure, but developer Ray Willey has said he expects the first of the four businesses planned for those areas to be operational later this year. The plan is for the ground and basement levels to feature a blues and barbecue restaurant, an Irish style pub, a coffee/bagel shop and a pizzeria.

The proposed 1400 Plaza is envisioned for the south side of the 1400 block of Broad Street. Mayor York has stated he would like to see this one block area developed into more than just a parking lot. The mayor has indicated he would like to see parking for Jennings Building residents and patrons of Jennings Building businesses, and also an area where events like the Farmers Market, benefit car washes and other community activities could be held. Landscaping, a water feature and other design elements have also been mentioned, but no votes regarding the plaza have taken place.

In the recent past, there has been discussion of leaving 14th Street closed permanently, of curving it to the east to allow outside space that would compliment the Jennings Building businesses, and at least a couple of other potential options to make the area more attractive to visitors and help spark revitalization efforts in the downtown business district.