Housing the No. 1 focus for Logansport in 2019

We’ve invited Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell to share updates from the city in a monthly column on CassCountyOnline.com.

January came in with a New Year’s baby in 2019, and left us like Old Man Winter.

Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell
Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell

We’ve all felt winter’s wrath last month, but the atmosphere at the annual State of the City/County Luncheon was a warm one.

As I related to nearly 200 people who attended, improving our housing stock in the community is the No. 1 goal on my “Nineteen for 2019” priority list. We’re still chasing good paying jobs and new companies and industries for Cass County as well as skilled workers who can fill the openings we have. But it has been made clear to many people on several levels that one of the major barriers to attracting people to live and work in Logansport and Cass County is the availability of housing for all income levels.

We made strides toward that goal in 2018. The ReVere Homes project was awarded state funding for 30 new single-family homes. Logan Square began leasing 40 apartments downtown. We received a proposal to redevelop the generating plant property on Race Street for apartments or condominiums. We also completed a housing master plan that called for at least 250 new residences scaling up to as many as 400 new residences for our city.

Our economic development dashboard confirms what many people already know. Since the city rejoined the Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization in 2016, the city has been part of $135 million in direct investments. Last year, employment figures indicate there were 300 additional jobs created in the city. Ten new businesses opened downtown, though three closed. There was a major renovation of the Fireside, the opening of the new Logansport Memorial Hospital Cancer Center and a $3.7 million fund drive for the renovation of the Cass County Family Y.

Last month, a deep dive into our assessed valuation as a city in comparison with our six peer cities closest to us in population also was positive. Since 2015, Logansport ranked third among those cities behind only Seymour and Huntington in the percentage of assessed value growth with more than $24 million or 6 percent. However, Seymour and Shelbyville, both of which have more than double Logansport’s assessed value, have lower totals today than in 2010. Logansport’s is up $10 million since then.

These figures can improve with greater investment not only by the city administration, but particularly by the private sector and new partners from outside the community. A case in point lies with the new owner of the former Marsh supermarkets. Over $1 million has already been spent on the North Third Street store site, and the former Hook’s Drug Store shuttered for years is being prepped for a rebirth as a convenience store and Marathon gas station. Still more is expected to be spent in the next year for the redevelopment of the Logansport Mall. A Chicago developer has signed a letter of intent to purchase it.

Financially, our city continues to be in a stronger position each year for the past three years.  We finished 2018 with a balance of more than $5 million. Our Tax Increment Fund accounts are up nearly $1 million in three years and our CEDIT funds are up nearly $500,000. Construction flirted with a $13 million mark last year when we were named the No. 1 Small Town in America Where You’d Actually Want to Live by Realtor.com.

As I said then, as we enter 2019, Logansport is in a state of purpose-driven, ambitious momentum. We’re proud of things like street paving that resulted in 66 blocks looking brand new, along with more than 100 ADA-accessible intersections last year. Our parks continue to be a pride point and were recognized as the Chamber’s Quality of Life Award winner last year. More infrastructure investment in Mount Hope Cemetery is apparent and electric rates have dropped.

It is a privilege to serve the citizens of Logansport and the ratepayers of the Logansport Municipal Utilities. As always, if you have a comment, a concern or a complaint, please feel free to contact me at dkitchell@cityoflogansport.org.