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City to help finance Ben Hur project

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The city is banking on the Ben Hur Building to spur new activity downtown.

An agreement has been drafted to designate the site as an economic development area and use property tax revenues to help pay for the project, a process known as tax increment financing.

The Crawfordsville Redevelopment Commission passed the agreement Tuesday, sending it to the Board of Public Works and Safety for approval. Construction on the $13 million project is expected to begin late next year.

Plans call for a street-level restaurant and a 57-room hotel on the second, third and fourth floors. The top floor will be renovated into ten apartment units. A new entrance will be created off Water Street.

“It’s like a time capsule from 1988,” developer Jon Anderson told commission members about the building, which still has much of its original furniture.

The project has been awarded $2.5 million in federal historic tax credits and received state funding for façade improvements. State funding will help pay for façade improvements.

Developers plan to apply for a roughly $2 million state tax credit becoming available in January, making up the rest of the funding.

“As I talk to people around the community, they’re excited that that building is going to see new life,” commission member Virginia Servies said.

The building is expected to re-open in 2021.

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