SPACES TO PLACES: MIBOR - Alley to Pedestrian Walkway Transformation
Fortville Action Inc., a volunteer run organization aimed at strengthening and promoting Fortville, Indiana, worked with the town to close off an alleyway from vehicular traffic in order to transform the space into a pedestrian friendly walkway and destination in the heart of downtown. The community approached the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR) with a plan to beautify the space, which connects public parking and the Farmer’s Market space to Main Street, with benches, planters and public art. The benches will provide a place for workers to sit during lunch and enjoy fresh air, a pleasant place to rest, or an esthetically pleasing place to transverse to and from public parking. Large decorative planters will be used as barricades to prevent vehicular traffic from entering the alley and bring natural element to the otherwise dull space.
With new businesses, festivals and increased activity on Main Street, outdoor seating and gathering areas are becoming an important part of the Main Street culture once again. Fortville became an Indiana Main Street community in 2012 and is currently experiencing a renaissance. Having quaint, inviting spaces plays an important part in drawing unique businesses to the town. Several buildings on Main Street are currently undergoing extensive renovations. Creating an inviting walkway and place to rest to Main Street from the public parking lot will encourage business owners to locate in Fortville knowing there will be adequate, accessible parking and safe passage. It will enable our community members to utilize the space for breaks, shade, and a quiet resting place.
The 5th Annual Fortville Winter Festival was on December 6, 2014. The festival was created to bring life back to the town’s struggling and dated Main Street. One objective was to draw people to downtown to showcase the unique storefronts there are available for small businesses in addition to bringing people together to celebrate the season in the traditional center of town and recreate a nostalgic atmosphere. To date, the event has been very successful. While not completely finished, the alleyway was a centerpiece for Christmas trees during the Festival. The community has drawn investors to buy and renovate buildings, storefronts have been rented and they have added many flourishing new businesses to Main Street. The NAR Placemaking Grant helped add to the aesthetics, property values and spirit of this quintessential Indiana Main Street.
Spring of 2015 will signal the completion of the project with the final installations of planters, benches and selections of public art. Local REALTORS® have enjoyed being a part of this transformation and note how the energy of the once blighted space has already elevated.