Topics: College of Architecture and Planning, Building Better Communities

November 12, 2009

The city of Noblesville's commitment to downtown restoration and stimulating the economy is much more than just a façade.

On Nov. 12, Noblesville officials, state legislators and Ball State representatives celebrated a program developed by the university and administered by the city's economic development department that has helped many downtown shop owners spruce up their storefronts and advanced the city's reputation for having one of the Midwest's most vibrant city centers.

Noblesville's Façade Improvement Grant Program, which pays for 50 percent of the improvements up to $25,000, has allowed 15 downtown business owners to make some substantial renovations.

Two years ago, city leaders approached Ball State to establish guidelines for the façade program. Ball State students, working through the university's Center for Historic Preservation, researched similar rehabilitation grant programs across the country, identified successes as well as potential downfalls and made recommendations for Noblesville's grant program. Students also wrote the grant manual detailing the program's requirements, eligible expenses and application process.

"These are the sort of dynamic immersive learning experiences we seek for our students," said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora. "They thoroughly researched the possibilities, established the guidelines and presented numerous drawings to illustrate this revitalization effort. No other university in Indiana is working with communities in this manner. And today everyone is reaping the benefits of this successful partnership."

This is just one way Noblesville's economic development department has been working to revitalize its downtown. Through administering the façade program, the city has recaptured much of the original architectural expression of its buildings by helping shop owners obtain grant funding. Seeing so many businesses take advantage of the program has been highly rewarding, said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear.

"Programs such as these have a significant impact on enhancing the quality of life and improving the economic vitality of our city," he said. "Moving forward, we will continue to develop similar partnerships in order to continue the execution of our downtown strategic action plan and to help Noblesville achieve its goals."

This project is part of the university's Building Better Communities initiative, which is helping to enhance Indiana's economy one community at a time.