Deadline looms for old building



The former owner of an historic building in downtown Crothersville has until Saturday to get up-to-date on property taxes.

If Nathan Ray can’t come up with $8,238.50 by then, he will lose any chance of reclaiming ownership of the 125-year-old brick structure on the southwest corner of Howard and Armstrong streets from Indiana Landmarks, which rehabilitates architecturally unique and historically significant structures.

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That nonprofit organization’s board recently met and approved the acceptance of the property along with a $40,000 donation from the town to use for stabilizing the building.

Because the property recently went through the tax sale process, there’s an abbreviated redemption period before the tax deed can be issued to Indiana Landmarks, said Greg Sekula, director of the organization’s Southern Regional office in Jeffersonville.

“Once we get the ownership, then our plan is to start stabilization,” Sekula said. “The brickwork is what was in the most need of attention, and that’s what we need to start with.”

Work also would include interior cleanup and repairs to the roof and windows.

Sekula said Indiana Landmarks has identified contractors to complete the work and hopes to fit that into their schedule, starting this fall. Still, that’s assuming they obtain ownership.

Town attorney Jeff Lorenzo said Ray owes unpaid real property taxes from the past two years. The last payment on taxes was made in October 2012.

If it takes possession of the building and the repairs are completed, Indiana Landmarks would find a potential developer. Town council President Ardell Mitchell has said he envisions a first-floor banquet/dining facility and apartments on the second floor or some kind of civic space.

“We’ll find a preservation-minded buyer who will take the building and do something positive with it,” Sekula said. “It’s an incredible building, and it’s an important building for Crothersville, and we’re glad to be involved in an effort to revitalize an important landmark of the community.”

In May, the town council voted to take ownership of the 40-by-66-foot building, which was constructed in 1891 and over the years housed the town’s Odd Fellows lodge, library, license branch and pharmacy.

The town planned to tear it down because of concerns it might fall down and spill into the town’s main intersection.

Ray told council members in April that he didn’t have money to make repairs to the building.

In July, county commissioners voted to give the town the tax sale certificate for the 0.6-acre property. That came after the county tried to sell it in April to collect unpaid property taxes, interest and penalties on the property and no purchaser came forward.

After the town took ownership of the property, it had the option to make improvements to stabilize the building or tear it down. The town council agreed to give the building to Indiana Landmarks.

The town had set aside $40,000 to demolish the building and clean up the site, and that will be put toward stabilization.

“I think it will make an impact,” Sekula said of the money from the town. “With additional funding from Indiana Landmarks, I think we’ll hopefully get all of those things on our checklist accomplished.”

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