Frankfort's downtown was showcased Thursday when a group from New Castle came to town to tour recent and current projects undertaken by the redevelopment commission and have questions answered by those who have worked on them through the last few years.

Making the trip from New Castle were Mayor Greg York, city councilmen Aaron Dicken and Lynn Perdue, economic development director Corey Murphy, New Castle Main Street Executive Director Carrie Barrett and city redevelopment commission president Bill Aitchison. They met with Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes, Frankfort Main Street President Joe Palmer, Frankfort Main Street Executive Director Kim Stevens, Chamber of Commerce, City of Frankfort Community Development Director Annie Bacon and Clinton County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shan Sheridan at Nickel Plate Flats on Jackson Street in downtown Frankfort, where they were greeted by Nickel Plate Flats developer Joe Blake of Iron Men Properties.

Nickel Plate Flats was of particular interest to the group from New Castle because of their need for residential housing in their downtown.

“We have no housing downtown, so that is what we are lacking,” York said. “That is why we wanted to come and see (NPF).

“We were very impressed,” York continued. “From the location we were looking at, it is one block from the courthouse but then it is just two blocks away from a grocery store. I think that is the main thing that you have to look at today. What do you have to offer to people in residential housing. That is what they created, and we would love to provide something like that in downtown New Castle also. It is good for us to see a reality before you send the money to do it. That is what was very reassuring for us – to see it be very successful in another community. That is what we brought away from this. It is successful there, and we think it could be successful in New Castle.”

When the group arrived at NPF around 11 a.m. Thursday, McBarnes spoke to them at length about the creation of the economic development plan in Frankfort, and he detailed the steps taken to reach the point the city is at today and its plans for the future. The group also listened to Blake about his decision to build in Frankfort and the actions taken by the city that led to that decision. They also had questions answered by Palmer, Sheridan and Stevens before continuing further inside NPF, touring the downtown and checking on the work currently underway to build Prairie Creek Park.

“We walked around the square and toured a lot of the streetscapes, sidewalks and tree pots,” Palmer said. “They went over and toured Frankie's coffee shop and the apartments that are going in above it. They went and toured the Iron Block building with the chamber and Main Street offices and, last but not least, they went and looked at what is going on at Prairie Creek Park.”

Palmer said that Barrett learned about what was happening in Frankfort through her attendance to the 2019 Frankfort Community Exchange on Nov. 16 at the Frankfort Community Public Library.

“Frankfort has a lot going for it,” Barrett said. “We could feel the momentum that downtown Frankfort has, so it really gave us the excitement for what could happen when you put your resources into a downtown.”

“It was very informational,” York agreed. “We all kind of live in our own little world, so it is always good to see what other communities are going through. We really appreciate their community services people taking time to meet with us to share information with New Castle.

“What we brought out of it is that we are about the same size,” he added. “We are very comparable. Neither of us are that close to Indianapolis, so we are not in that doughnut. We have to survive on our own, so it is good to get information from somebody who is very parallel with New Castle.”

York was appreciative of the time the group of community leaders from Frankfort took to host them in the city.

“It says a lot for Frankfort, the chamber and Main Street that they not only take time to help their community but to also help towns like them,” he said. “I think we all have to stick together and try to help each other out. I really appreciated the community taking time to reach out and give us a whole day. Your guys spent a whole day giving us info. The information that they gave us was priceless, and we are just very grateful for this.”

Palmer says that it was a pleasure hosting them.

“It is good that we are being seen across the state as a city that is on the move and growing,” Palmer said. “I have been contacted myself by some developers out of the Carmel and Fishers area that are wanting to invest in the future here. There are people talking about us in other communities. If other people are looking at us from an investment-type level, that means companies may look at us to bring restaurants and different types of businesses that could come to the community because of that. That is our goal – to bring more companies to the city of Frankfort and make it more convenient for our citizens.”

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