5th St. Brownstone
508 North 5th St.
The conceptualization and implementation of the N. 5th Street Brownstones and Rowhouses owner-occupied, urban housing project in 1999-2000 is a unique, neighborhood-driven story:
The concept for redevelopment of commercial property on North 5th Street into owner occupied residential units originated at a board of directors meeting of Historic Centennial Neighborhood Association (HCNA) in November 1997. The plan was to obtain and redevelop the Midwest Rental properties on the east and west sides of the 500 block of North Fifth for appropriately designed owner-occupied residences. About the same time, a privately funded project to develop rowhouses in the 600 block of North 5th was in financial jeopardy. The neighborhood's dream of developing new owner-occupied residences in the 500 and 600 blocks of North 5th Street evolved into the North Fifth Street Brownstones and Rowhouses project. A summary of the many activities that combined to result in the development project follows.
In late 1997, Historic Centennial Neighborhood (HCN) was also deeply involved in rezoning the neighborhood under the Tippecanoe County new Unified Zoning Ordinance (NUZO). The threat to Centennial at that time was the acquisition and demolition of single family houses for the unwanted building of high density apartment complexes that were marketed primarily to Purdue University students. The goal of the rezoning was to change the current zoning that encouraged neighborhood destroying, high density apartment development to a zoning pattern that favored one and two family residential uses. The neighborhood's strategy was to use zoning to enhance the possibility of increasing homeownership in the neighborhood. With the help of a grant from Lafayette Urban Enterprise Association, legal expertise was employed and down-zoning of Historic Centennial was accomplished.
Obviously, Historic Centennial Neighborhood Association did not have funds to acquire property. So the neighborhood sought to enlist the support of the City of Lafayette and a private developer to realize its vision for the development of new owner-occupied residences on North Fifth Street. Lafayette Neighborhood Housing Services expressed interest in the possibility of being the developer.
At the request of HCNA, the City of Lafayette Community Development and Redevelopment Department contracted The Danter Company to identify the owner-occupied housing development potential on North 5th Street. This potential was verified in a September 1998 report.
While the Danter study was in process, the City of Lafayette supported an initiative to develop a common vision for the city's downtown neighborhoods, including Historic Centennial. The resulting October 1998 report, Neighborhoods That Work: Revitalization Plan, identified the North 5th Street site as a prime area for residential development. In a subsequent implementation plan, the City allocated community development block grant funds and Home funds for owner-occupied residential development to the Neighborhood Action Committee (which was formed based on a Revitalization Plan recommendation). This committee included representatives from the HCN and three other downtown neighborhoods.
In late 1998, the Neighborhood Action Committee directed that the majority of its city-based housing funds be used to leverage the North 5th Street development. Lafayette Neighborhood Housing Services agreed to be the developer and engaged Paradigm Development, Inc. as a co-developer. The Midwest Rentals property on the west side of the 500 block and the privately held property in the 600 block of North 5th Street were acquired for development.
From the earliest planning, it was agreed that the exterior of the housing units must be designed to complement the surrounding historic architecture. Paradigm Development, the builder, worked with HCN to achieve an appropriate design for the project. Eight three-story co-joined houses (two story townhouse over a one-story garden apartment) were built on the 500 block site and six two-story, co-joined rowhouses were built on the 600 block location.
In October 2000, the HCNA held a street party to celebrate the completion of the North 5th Street Brownstones and Rowhouses project. Many compliments have been paid about the startling transformation of North 5th Street. But the neighborhood's vision is not complete. It still strives to create the situation for the acquisition and redevelopment of the Midwest Party Rentals property on the east side of the 500 block of N. 5th. When this site is redeveloped into appropriately designed, owner-occupied urban residential units, the neighborhood's vision will be complete. But wait, there might be additional opportunities.