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The land between North Main Street, Franklin Street, Baker Avenue, and Illinois Street — once a plow and metal works factory from the 1870s to the 1940s — is the location of the newest Jacobsville redevelopment.

The Forge on Main — named for the original factory— is a $28-million project consisting of 180 workforce-living apartments and a 16,000 square-foot retail space to attract a fresh grocery and other commercial retailers. Upon completion in late 2021, The Forge’s rent will be based on 60 to 120 percent of the area’s median income.

“My responsibility is to advocate for projects like this, which will bring new housing, new economic development, new residency to this neighborhood which has suffered such losses over the last 20, 30 years,” says Kelley Coures, executive director of the Department of Metropolitan Development.

After the Civic Center in 1967 and the Lloyd Expressway in 1988 blocked Downtown and the EPA declared it a Superfund site (an area with high levels of lead) in the early 2000s, the neighborhood’s reputation fell.

But the neighborhood also has a positive label — Jacobsville is a Promise Zone site. The Promise Zone initiative labels neighborhoods with a poverty rate of more than 39 percent so they can have easier access to resources.

“We were targeting Evansville as a potential redevelopment spot and Jacobsville was a perfect fit,” says Matt Gadus, principal and director of development at House Investments in Indianapolis.

After Gadus contacted Coures and Promise Zone Director Silas Matchem in 2017, the three put the project into motion.

They secured $1.5 million in Jacobsville Tax Increments Financing Bonds and a 10-year tax abatement, approved by the redevelopment commission and city council; up to $4 million from Indiana Economic Development Corporation tax credits; $4.5 million in private equity; and $750,00 donated by the Vectren CenterPoint Energy Foundation.

“You have to make investments in neighborhoods that have economic challenges like that,” says Coures. “Eventually the neighborhood will take off on its own and they won’t need us anymore.”


Photos provided by House Investments.

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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