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0000017c-83f8-d4f8-a77d-b3fd0cf60000On August 9, 2018, the dedication and ribbon cutting were held for the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences in downtown Evansville. The facility will house numerous health professions programs for the University of Evansville, the University of Southern Indiana and the Indiana University Medical School Evansville campus. The programs will work side by side to create a transformational approach to health care and medical education.

City trying to secure funds to save Owen Block from the wrecking ball

Cass Herrington

A chain link fence surrounds the whimsical blue building and on it hangs a sign for Klenck Company -- a demolition contractor.

Since that fence went up, the Department of Metropolitan Development, the City Controller and Indiana Landmarks have been working to secure a bond and private donations to save the Owen Block.

DMD Director Kelley Coures says he and City Controller Russell Lloyd Junior are looking into the possibility of using leftover general obligation bond funds from the 2006 Front Door Pride program. The program was established to combat blight by knocking down vacant properties south of downtown.

“And I don’t know yet if that general obligation bond was for general development," Coures said.

If those funds are designated for general development, then $100,000 could be used to protect and upgrade the Owen Block building.

But if these funds were intended for another purpose, like acquisition, demolition and sidewalks, the department would need City Council’s approval to move the funds to a grants and subsidies budget – in other words, to upgrade the Owen Block building.

"I have talked to Councilwoman Connie Robinson (the building is in her ward), and she was in favor of doing that," Course said.

Meantime, Coures says, Indiana Landmarks is also contacting potential donors who may be interested in saving the building.

The public meeting that will determine the fate of the Owen Block is January 22.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed that Russ Lloyd tells me we can use that bond fund to move it into a grants and subsidies line, that Indiana Landmarks will have sufficient funding and that our match will complete what is necessary to stabilize the building,” Course said. "And all of that can be presented to the hearing judge and the judge will put a stay on that raze order...and then architectural renovators can do their magic."

And that chain link fence around the building may have helped make that so-called "magic" happen faster.

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