Gatke Building Future Being Studied

Though it was not on today’s agenda, the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission briefly discussed the Gatke building and what is being done to rid the city of the eyesore.

At the last meeting of the WRC, Mark Dobson of the Warsaw-Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce and Kellie Malcom of Malcom Associates, said an ad hoc committee has been formed to study salvaging the property and converting it to something beneficial for the city. Under consideration is the historic value of the property.

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer attended the WRC meeting today to say he met with the chamber’s ad hoc committee about their study. He said they are looking to initiate help from Ball State or Notre Dame universities in deciding the best route for dealing with the building.

In his update, however, Thallemer said he encouraged the committee to consider a broader scope and that he believes they will heed his advice. “I think the shift is away from looking strictly at the Gatke property and perhaps looking at other areas of the community that could potentially benefit from redevelopment,” he said. “They know they need to get moving pretty quick on any type of plan, but again, the shift is now away from all of those resources being spent on just the one area.”

Warsaw City Planner Jeremy Skinner also said he received a request from Century Link using a portion of the Gatke property for an easement.

Century Link would like to be granted an easement measuring about 20 feet by 35 feet for the use of a fiber optics substation. The easement is being requested along the southeast side of the property and near the railroad tracks and the underpass.

WRC member Rick Snodgrass asked how such an easement would affect future plans for the property, to which Skinner said, “That’s something that needs to be discussed.” However, Skinner added he didn’t believe the space Century Link is asking for would be cumbersome, but has concerns for the aesthetic value once the greenway bicycle paths are completed. The substation the communications company is asking for would include 5 to 6 small cabinets to house the fiber optic cables.

Although fiber optic substations are not high voltage and do not require fencing, Thallemer agreed with Skinner about aesthetics and suggested the WRC require Century Link to put up fencing or other attractive buffers, if they opt to allow the easement. “You have to remember that (fiber optic) is for the purpose of enhancing Century Link’s facilities and services to the city,” he added. “We need to understand the commitment we have with offering fiber optics and the partnership is something to not overlook.”

The WRC agreed to allow Century Link the right to approach the board with its formal request.

In an unrelated matter about the Gatke building, WRC President Charlie Smith noted he has seen some activity at the property and asked, “Is there someone we should call or something we should do?” Skinner advised calling the police noting, “The property is just not really safe.” It was noted that signs warning against trespassing need to be replaced.

In other business:

A resolution completing the establishment of the Northern TIF District was unanimously passed. The property includes the Kerlin and Cardinal Services property along U.S. 30 near CR 150 West.
Skinner noted Beyer Farm Apartments are undergoing a $2 million remodel and building addition. Located on North Colfax Street in Warsaw, the apartments are being remodeled and will then be marketed to individuals ages 55 years old and older.

The Warsaw Redevelopment Commission is made up of Charlie Smith, Rick Snodgrass, Tim Meyer, George Clemens, Dan Robinson and Jeff Johnson. Meetings are held at noon on the first Monday of each month. September’s meeting will be held on the second Monday, Sept. 10, due to Labor Day.

Comments

Gatke Building Future Being Studied — 3 Comments

  1. The Gatke building has been a popular setting for photographers for years and I understand the concern for safety. That being said, what is the city doing to make the area more secure? Currently, anyone of any age can walk into the building where there are numerous hazards. Should a curious child gain access to the building there is a strong possibility of serious injury should he or she fall into openings in the floor, some of which are ten feet deep. The threat of arrest has been issued to anyone gaining access to the building due to safety concerns, yet we have an administration that chooses to do nothing to increase security.

  2. Historic or not there are just some things you need to let go of in order to make the city better. As mentioned it is a great setting for photographers but what amount of pictures are enough? Also, this place surrounding has been known for homeless and drug users but am not sure if that problem still exist with the destruction of the one property where it was being used by drug users or homeless. This entire stretch needs to be become some sort of tall building over looking Winona Lake.

  3. I have taken pictures of the Gatke property of the outside and parts of the inside of the buildings. Considering how open it is, the amount of tagging inside is small. There is a lot of history sitting there, and before Gatke’s the oldest part with the big windows was power station #1 for the Winona & Warsaw Interurban Railway, and the brick wall on the old Milnot building power station #2. Winona Lake should also have a say in this too since that was partly theirs also. My vision is to make it into a museum for the Interurban with old rail cars, PPR, United Telephone, Gatke’s and other items to showcase Warsaw and Winona Lake history. The large open area could become a convention center. We have a bad history taking down old buildings and putting up new or just a parking lot.