This view shows the downtown alley which goes from Market Street north to Perry Street between Johnson Street and Main Street. It will be one of the downtown alleyways which will be turned into a pedestrian walkway next year, assuming funds are raised for the project. (Photo by Dave Schultz)
This view shows the downtown alley which goes from Market Street north to Perry Street between Johnson Street and Main Street. It will be one of the downtown alleyways which will be turned into a pedestrian walkway next year, assuming funds are raised for the project. (Photo by Dave Schultz)
Bluffton NOW!’s downtown alleyways project is eligible for a matching grant of $50,000, according to an announcement made by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Mike Lautzenheiser, president of the downtown revitalization organization, says there is a deadline of Jan. 11 attached to the grant. If Bluffton NOW! — for New, Old, and Wonderful — raises that much money in the next 45 days, IHCDA will match that amount.

It’s an all-or-nothing match. Lautzenheiser said the local amount raised must be $50,000 to receive the $50,000 matching grant. No lesser amount will be matched.

The grant will come from the IHCDA’s CreatINg Places program.

“Finding better uses for these alleyways is a great way to encourage people to visit downtown Bluffton, said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who heads up the IHCDA. “We hope this alley activation will support local small businesses and enhance tourism.”

The alley just north of the Wells County Courthouse and the Parlor City Plaza will be the centerpiece of the project. Other alleys in the plan are two that are in the 200 block of West Market Street, one alongside the American Legion Post on West Washington Street, and another across from City Hall on East Market Street.

Funds will add lighting, artwork, seating, and amenities to the alleys to “help make these spaces part of the draw of downtown,” according to the IHCDA’s announcement.

“This is a great opportunity to help get the Downtown Pathways project from concept to reality,” Lautzenheiser said. “This project will continue to help grow our city center into a true destination.”

The announcement said that the CreatINg Places program has raised more than $5.6 million in public funds and an additional $4.5 million in maching IHCDA funds since the program began in 2016. The program says it has had a 96 percent success rate.

To be eligible, a project must have a minimum total development cost of $10,000 — $5,000 from IHCDA and $5,000 in what is called Patronicity, or local matching funds. IHCDA provides up to $50,000 per project, meaning the Bluffton allleyways project is among the top matches.

Lautzenheiser said donations are now being sought for the matching grant.
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