Wayne County Council officially provided its support Dec. 6 for an apartment project at the former Elder-Beerman site in Richmond.

The $36 million investment package includes $2 million in consolidated EDIT money that requires council’s approval. Council members heard a presentation Nov. 15 about the project by Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties to build 150 market-rate apartments as a step in revitalizing Richmond’s downtown.

Flaherty & Collins expects to contribute more than $21 million, with the rest pieced together from local and state sources, including a $3.45 million cash contribution from the city.

Valerie Shaffer, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, told council members that a development agreement is being finalized after more negotiations took place Dec. 4, then a loan agreement will be drafted. All of the project contributions will be put into an escrow account and be considered a forgivable loan.

Council member Cathy Williams acknowledged opposition to the project that she’s received. She said Richmond Mayor-elect Ron Oler assured her that the project is positive for the city and county and that the city would also take care of its ongoing project downtown at the former Readmore building.

“We have done our due diligence to check, so I want the people watching (on WCTV) to know that we’ve all checked, and a lot of the money in that fund comes from the city of Richmond,” Williams said. “So on that premise, I’m going to vote yes. But we did check into those things, so your voices are heard. We’ve passed that along, and it’s going to be taken care of.”

The motion to approve passed 6-0.

2024 budget

Council took action to satisfy the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance about the county’s 2024 budget.

When council passed the $50 million budget Nov. 1, it left $3 million in its one-time expenditures line item used to pay for projects each year. Council members realized there really would only be $1.5 million available to spend, but kept the $3 million figure for year-to-year consistency.

DLGF reviewed the budget and required the county reduce the budget by $1.5 million. Council unanimously passed a resolution that lowered the one-time expenditures line item to $1.5 million.

BZA appointment

Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development, recommended council reappoint Kristen Ward to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Ward serves as the BZA’s chair. Council members approved the reappointment 6-0.

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A version of this article appeared in the December 13 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.