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Robert Burry had a vision, and Bob Andriot saw it clearly, a vision that holds beautiful hope for downtown Shelbyville.
Mr. Andriot, a lifelong downtown businessman and property owner, and Mr. Burry, an architect, builder and restoration dreamer, have joined forces with a concept to transform one of the downtown’s most undesirable but historic eyesores, the Blue Gables, from a seedy rental property into something of vibrancy and potential.
Their idea first became public last year when details were released prematurely, but through a consistent and focused process, they now are recruiting investors and pursuing grants for their concept of small shops and stores to be reconfigured on the corner of 8th and Main streets, south of the block where the Shelby County Community Theatre now sits and where we hope the City Center will be built someday soon.
Downtown Shelbyville is always a liquid proposition when it comes to small business. Mr. Andriot has seen both sides – as a lifelong resident, a second-generation successful businessman and restoration supporter – to a landlord with vacant space.
That he and Mr. Burry would invest their time and money in a project that likely would see its greatest moments after their lifetimes is the sort of personal vestment that sets an example for all of us and has an impact in all those who believe in Shelbyville.
When a business in downtown Shelbyville dies, store fronts not only are left to the next rotation of capital, but a little piece of each of us is lost, too.
This is our core, the heart of our history, of our culture, the birthplace of many of our families. We are all invested, however minimally, and a lively downtown is part of the Americana that most of us cherish.
To that point, downtown Shelbyville brings with its commercial ebb and flow not just tax dollars and valuable store-front exposure but also civic pride and that invaluable hope. It’s the place where we rally, the place where our most important legal steps are ratified, the blocks we protect as the chest of our community.
We don’t know how well Mr. Andriot and Mr. Burry’s project will be received. We don’t know yet who will be those to step forward and invest toward the $125,000 they are seeking to provide purchase for this project. We don’t know if it will be transformational for anything more than the strip of brick apartments that comprise the Blue Gables.
But we do know this: As much as their fresh thought, their passion and their hard work will be evident, so, too, will be their commitment to helping downtown Shelbyville have a new opportunity to return to the magnetism of its past and develop a charisma for its future.
And we wish them luck.