Greenwood looks at revitalizing "Old Town"

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A new vision hopes to transform downtown Greenwood, with high-end shopping, broad sidewalks, and new traffic patterns, including a roundabout.

The proposal - still in its early stages - has city leaders' approval, and they say, has a chance to succeed where other plans have failed.

An old-school feel on Main Street brought Vinny Berberena's old-fashioned barbershop to Greenwood last year.

"It's a really unique place. It's a unique atmosphere," the owner of Main Street Cutz said. "I love it and that's why I chose Greenwood."

Now there are new plans for Old Town Greenwood to boost foot traffic outside his front door. Right now, downtown is more of a drive by than a destination.

There's plenty of car traffic, but it often becomes a bottleneck at Madison and Main, and rarely do drivers stop, park and shop. But the city's Economic Development Commission envisions a different future for downtown: one-way streets, wider sidewalks and high-end stores and condos.

"Upscale housing, like third story condominiums with businesses and shops below," explained Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers.

The mayor and the city council have endorsed the proposal, which centers on Market Plaza. That's where the city just purchased the foreclosed Presnell building to create a new City Hall.

"Hopefully by that and by the city being the center of downtown, it will get businesses to want to come downtown," Myers said.

Downtown revitalization has been Greenwood's goal for decades. But previous plans, which included bulldozing older buildings to create new ones, were met with resistance and never materialized.

The important distinction with this development - the proposal plans to preserve historic buildings instead of tearing them down. The city would do that by re-routing roads and traffic patterns through the existing downtown.

Main Street would go one-way west. Traffic would flow onto Market Plaza, near Suds Drive-In and Jockamo's Pizza, and lead to a new roundabout at Madison Avenue.

Business owners, like Jockamo's Mick McGrath, located along Market Plaza already, say it could work. He likes that it brings new business and traffic patterns without sacrificing the character of Greenwood.

"Anytime you direct traffic right by your store, I mean that's great for any business," McGrath said. "Trying to redo the intersection at Main and Madison, that would have required a lot more money and tearing down some really nice buildings there. I think this makes sense for the city. It would be great to see this as a shopping and dining destination like Zionsville is downtown and Carmel, too."

Infrastructure improvements with the new road changes would be the first step in making this proposal a reality in Greenwood. To pay for that, the EDC recommends creating a tax increment finance, or TIF district, to capture dollars from future development downtown.

Mayor Myers says that takes time, so Greenwood is still 3-4 years away from starting the project downtown.

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