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Now empty, Blue Gables renovation can begin

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By Todd Martin

About three years ago, the idea to turn the old Blue Gables Hotel into an artisan center started gaining momentum when it was released that the City of Shelbyville was applying for a Community Block Grant to help fund the project.

The proposed change was to fix a blight area in Shelbyville and create a tourist friendly commercial and retail center on the west end of the city’s downtown commercial area, and on Monday afternoon that plan finally came together.

The Shelbyville Preservation Group (SPG) finally closed on the property at the corner of 8th and Main streets and the group hopes to get the project underway soon with storefronts opening by fall.

“The next thing we need to do is get together and walk through the building as a group,” said Kerry Magan, speaking on behalf of SPG. “We need to see what we can do and where we need to get started. We also need to see how we can best secure the building while we get started. We have to do our best to ensure it stays empty while we figure how to move forward.”

The Shelbyville Preservation Group is a non-profit group formed by investors in early 2012 and helped front the needed matching funds, about $125,000, to qualify for the Community Block Grant of about $500,000.

Magan said the group hasn’t done a full walkthrough on the property, and this will be the first chance they’ve had to really see what work will need to be done.

“I know there is a lot of clean-up to be done,’ he said. “There was some roof damage in the last windstorm, and I know it was fixed, but we’ll need to take a look at that, as well.”

But the changes, he said, should start taking shape soon.

“Basically, we just need to get in there as a group,” he said. “Once we can do that I think things will be right on schedule.”

And that schedule, he hopes, will have artisans and vendors moving in by this fall.

“That’s what we’re aiming for,” he said. “We’d like to have some portion of the building open and working by that time.

“I think this is just the start of good things happening in the city around that block.”