The BCDA is in the process of developing an infill housing project centered on the community’s historic Diamond Square. At build out, this project will result in the construction of several new, energy-efficient homes and mixed-use units.
The BCDA acquired seven blighted and/or underutilized buildings located at the western end of the downtown. The BCDA also gained site control of the former Conemaugh Terrace Complex. The residential buildings were demolished to make way for the Blairsville Riverfront Village. The small non-residential building was retrofitted to house the BCDA office until new housing is built on this site.
Streetscape improvements involved re-configuring the historic Diamond Square to its original configuration as a traffic circle and the installation of brick sidewalks, street trees, benches and pedestrian lighting around the Diamond Square.
The demolition phase, which was completed in 2012, started with demolition of the former Vale-Tech buildings and the old skating rink on Brown Street. All buildings in the redevelopment area, except for the one that temporarily houses the BCDA office, have been demolished.
Site improvements to support construction of the new housing units were started in spring 2014. Site improvements will include the relocation of utilities, construction of additional sidewalks and alleys, and the inclusion of civic space dedicated to community activities and usage.
Housing will be constructed in phases. Construction of the Sycamore Condominiums, which will be located at the corner of West Brown and South Liberty Streets, is expected to be complete and ready for occupancy in 2019 followed by the Riverfront housing units in 2019-2020.
An infill housing development can spark neighborhood and downtown revitalization and increase the local tax-base. A healthy downtown residential district generates a constant flow of foot traffic to support nearby retailers, services, restaurants, and other businesses.
Living downtown is particularly attractive to many who work downtown. Blairsville is also a reasonable commuting distance from major employment centers located in Indiana and surrounding counties. By incorporating a higher density of residents in the downtown mix, the amount of activity increases. This in turn creates an even more vibrant and desirable downtown economy.
Many other public benefits are also provided through infill development, which:
Expands the range of housing choices to meet the needs of the state’s changing demographic trends. These trends reflect an increase in smaller households, and single and empty nesters.
Concentrates development in areas where infrastructure such as public transit, and sewer and water already exist, rather than in undeveloped greenfields. This lowers public investment costs and reduces demand to develop farmland and open space.
Increases density, which results in less auto-dependency and creates more walkable communities. These development patterns encourage healthy lifestyles and reduce pollution.
Improves the value of surrounding properties by eliminating vacant lots and abandoned buildings, which may be crime and public health hazards. This creates an incentive for other property owners to reinvest.