OCRA: 2011 - Greencastle
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City of Greencastle

City of Greencastle

Stellar Plan

STELLAR PROJECTS

  • Downtown Bookstore
  • Wi-Fi Bubble
  • Owner Occupied Rehab
  • Downtown Facades
  • Streetscaping 
  • Parking Solutions

BACKGROUND

Greencastle’s rich historical architecture and close proximity to a college community proved to be key factor that, paired with their long term city planning, situated them as a Stellar front runner during Stellar’s inaugural year. At the point of designation, DePauw University, located just blocks away from downtown Greencastle, had just come under a new president. In the past, the relationship between DePauw and Greencastle hadn’t been developed to its potential. Students tended to stay campus and remained detached from the community. The Stellar committee sought to bridge this gap and set a goal to become “the next great college town.”

GREENCASTLE’S  PERSPECTIVE

The Greencastle Stellar team was led by Sue Murray, Greencastle’s Mayor at the time. Early in the planning process, the team determined that it was critical to bring DePauw into the planning process. Through this relationship, Murray was able to use university events as a platform to advertise the changes the city was making.

“This Stellar money came during the recession and the passage of property tax caps,” Murray said. “It gave our community a new hope.” 

In 1985, Greencastle put together a downtown urban design plan that laid the foundation for the projects that Stellar dollars eventually brought to fruition. 

Current mayor, Bill Dory, was a part of the Stellar team and believes that this planning gave them a strong foundation from which to build. “Anytime a community of 10,000 gets this kind of opportunity, it’s transformative,” Dory said. “Under normal circumstances, the projects we wanted to do would have taken 20 years.”

Once the designation as awarded, the Stellar team began the federal grant process. Going into the program, they didn’t realize how intensive this process was and were forced to juggle several projects at once. 

“None of us realized how much work it would be,” Murray said. “We ultimately decided to handle the projects in-house and not hire a consulting firm. This way all of our funding is put into the community.”

Building on the personalized approach and long-term planning, Greencastle’s Stellar team worked closely with DePauw University in their Stellar planning. Many of the projects were mutually beneficial to the city and University. This relationship continues to be a great asset to the city as DePauw has taken on their own projects that reach out into the community.

Most recently, the University bought an old Goodwill building after Stellar dollars funded its new façade. Since then, they transformed it into a hub for the arts downtown. Student recitals, community music lessons and concerts are held there for both students and community members. 

Before getting to this point, the Stellar team had to spend thousands of hours reviewing projects, going back and modifying plans and communicate those plans to the community. Like most Stellar communities, getting the public up to speed on Stellar projects proved to be a challenge. 

“We tried to share information through various methods and as many times as possible,” Murray said. “All of the construction was disrupting life downtown. We were ripping up entire streets and blocks at a time.” 

Although the majority of the public was supportive, Greencastle’s Stellar team was intentional to regularly share changes and updates to the plan through a variety of means. City council meetings, public meetings, through a designated webpage, newspapers and one-on-one conversations were used to combat any incorrect perceptions surrounding Stellar. 

“Because we were one of the first communities, we all realized it was a grand experiment and that we were all on a learning curve,” Dory said. 

At the present, Greencastle has completed all of their Stellar projects and is looking towards building on this program through different community initiatives. The city hosts regularly scheduled events that take advantage of the new, Stellar-funded spaces such through a farmers market and First Fridays. 

Additionally, they have continued to build on their relationship with DePauw. During alumni gatherings, the university has begun to show off the changes that Greencastle has made and sparked interest among some alumni to invest into local businesses. 

“Projects that are being planned now are coming together because of the success of Stellar and the resulting downtown investment and retail growth. Success often breeds more success,” Murray said. “It really kick-started the downtown.” 

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