ELKHART – Elkhart is continuing its efforts to deal with vacant, unsafe buildings.
City leaders say the condition of the Elkhart Armory building downtown has gone from bad to worse, but the city has obtained the building and is now trying to figure out what to do with it.
Appearances can be deceiving. From the outside, the building doesn’t look too bad. But once inside, you get a better feel about it.
On the first level, most recently a liquor store, the floors are buckling, ceilings cracking and trash is everywhere.
The second floor, which once held a roller skating rink, is the result partially of a leaky roof.
“It is in disrepair,” said Elkhart Economic Development Director Barkley Garrett. “It is starting to become a safety concern, so that’s one of the reasons that the city wanted to get involved, sooner, rather than later.
There have been no takers for the building as it looks right now. So, the city bought the north parking lot as a separate parcel. Then, the building was donated by the previous owner.
The next step for the city is to find out if it would be worthwhile to renovate the building and see if there were any takers for it. If not, most likely, the city would decide to probably have it demolished and then find out if there were any takers for a prime piece of riverfront real estate there.
“This will be a great location, whether the private sector gets the building and rehabs the building, or if the building goes away and a new development happens at a later point,” Garrett said.
Stan Glanders owns a business across the street.
“Looking at it every day, I think the highest and best use would be to knock it down and put something more conducive to the size of the lot,” Glanders said. “The building is way too big for the size of the lot. It’s dated. It’s in terrible shape.”
The city points out the downtown location is right along the riverwalk on North Main St. It would be the only prime piece of real estate left available along the river.