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Martinsville Shop Owners Discuss Downtown Revitalization

Empty and dilapidated Martinsville businesses will apply for grant funding aimed as restoring the city’s downtown.

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Photo: Kirsten Brown/WFIU News

Several buildings in downtown Martinsville are either boarded up or in the process of renovation.

This week saw the first of a series of meetings about how empty and dilapidated Martinsville businesses will apply for grant funding aimed as restoring the city’s downtown.

Twenty-one Martinsville store owners gathered Monday night to discuss the downtown revitalization grant applications. Martinsville Candy Kitchen Owner John Badger was among them.

“They’re talking to 7 to 9 storefronts, which will hopefully encourage other people to do other work on their storefronts,” Badger says. “Or, of the people to buy the empty vacant buildings that are there and do something with them. And put businesses in those vacant stores.”

Badger says a grant would enable him to do work on the front of his building, but he will have to put up 20 percent of the cost himself. What’s more, many of the businesses will require expensive interior restorations.

Chris Sturbaum, a Bloomington city councilman and member of the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission, says even though such fixer-uppers are expensive, they could have long-term benefits for Martinsville.

“Look, we all benefit if we make the square nice,” Sturbaum says. “If we make the front of our stores historic and attractive. It’s sort of a nice way to stimulate everyone to make an effort that is unified and conservative.”

Grant applications are not due until May 31, and the actual work on the Martinsville courthouse square should begin in March of 2014.

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