Plainfield unveiling public’s picks for downtown revitalization

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PLAINFIELD, Ind. – After steering committee meetings, stakeholders' input and comments from the public, town leaders in Plainfield are ready to show what they believe their community wants to see happen downtown, and the surrounding area, over the next 20 to 30 years.

Officials in the town spent the summer gathering thoughts from several groups, including residents at the town's farmers market, on what improvements or changes they'd like to see in the area. The town focused on areas as far north as the Vandalia Trail, Franklin Park and Lincoln Street, east to Shaw and Pickett Streets, south to Buchanan Street and the Al and Jan Barker Sports Complex, and west to Vestel Road.

“It’s an older part of town, a beautiful part of town, and we’d love to see some re-investment in this area," said Plainfield deputy town manager, Tony Perona. "It's retail, people investing more in their houses and to a point where they were in a really beautiful state that they were one time.”

In recent years, the majority of the town's growth has come on its eastern and southern sides, where The Shops at Perry Crossing are located and several large distribution centers and logistics centers have opened. Perona said the town gains more than 18,000 people each day during business hours.

However, with plenty of restaurants and businesses on those sides of town, its likely many of those workers never visit the town's downtown.

“We’d love to see downtown be more of a destination," Perona said.

Developers had actually approached town officials about helping change that and looking at what could be done to attract new business and customers to that area.

“Before anybody gets going in it, let’s engage the public," said Perona "What they would like to see in a downtown area."

That's what led to hundreds of comments from across the community which could turn into a long-term plan or concept for the town to pursue over the next couple decades.

On Tuesday night, town leaders revealed some of the popular comments from the summer. The town plans to continue to fine-tune the plan through the end of 2017 and formally give the town council a plan to approve in December.

The top thing the public wanted to see was an old theater reopen.

“It seems like everybody has a good memory of that, going to see movies there and we’d really like to see that restored and put back in use.”

The Village West Theatre, also known as Prewitt Theatre, closed in the summer of 2008, and has sat empty ever since.

“More than anything we hear from people saying, we got to get that theater back," Perona said. “The town has an option right now to purchase that and the town is doing its due diligence to see if it wants to go forward with that. That would be a very key piece of getting people down here and re-engaging people in coming downtown to eat, shop and be entertained.”

Another popular comment went right along with putting new life into the old theater. People said they wanted performing arts downtown. It's become a popular form of entertainment recently with the town's Play'nfield In the Park, a performing arts festival held at Hummel Park.

Perona said the old Prewitt Theatre could likely show movies and host one-man performances, such as comedians. He added that he and other town leaders visited the Artcraft Theatre in Franklin and the Royal Theatre in Danville to see how old theaters are getting used today.

Perona stressed that to the public that the plan the town is working on is a long-term plan that the town is looking at 20 to 30 years down the road and the popular picks being unveiled to the public is a chance to make sure the town is on the right track with what the community would like to see.

"It's a long-term engagement that says, based on what we got from the public, here is what we think could happen over a long period of time," he said.

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