Goshen Brownfields Bloom Again
For more than a century, Goshen was a thriving center of manufacturing and industry. Unfortunately, those successful businesses also produced brownfields – contaminated land largely abandoned due to the legacy of environmental pollution.
But Goshen has been resurrecting those spaces, returning them to vibrant community use through the Brownfields Program, the Environmental Protection Agency’s system supporting the revitalization of these neglected spaces with funding for clean-up that paves the way for redevelopment.
Today, some of Goshen’s most beloved destinations are former brownfields. Goshen Brewing Company, Fidler Pond Park, and the mixed-use residential and commercial space of the Hawks are just a few of the places to live, work, and play that have been restored and made to bloom again.
Read our list to learn more about new and vibrant destinations in Goshen that began life as brownfields:
1. Ariel Cycle Works
Brownfield Site: Western Rubber – 620 E. Douglas St
Ariel Cycleworks LLC is planned as a mixed-use development on the former location of Western Rubber, a manufacturer of automotive supplies and industrial equipment at the location for a century until closing its doors in 2002.
As a brownfield site, Western Rubber is an example of some of the region’s heavier industrial use; contaminated materials at the location had to be removed before development work could begin. But in its new life, the land will house construction offering 138 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space with room in that total for a coffee shop.
The project carries elements of the name of the Ariel Cycle Manufacturing Company, the site’s original tenant and a builder of world-class bicycles for six years that ended in 1897. Once completed, Ariel Cycleworks will also join with the Ninth Street Trail Way, a 1.3-mile bike and pedestrian path, and one more way the re-development project supports environmentally friendly living in the Maple City.
Construction on Ariel Cycleworks is set to begin by the end of 2022.
2. Fidler Pond Park and Pavillion
Brownfield Site: Aggregate Industries Gravel Pit – 1424 East Lincolnway
In 1946, Lewis Fidler established a sand and gravel business in Goshen. The “open pit” mine that resulted was used to pull sand and rock from the ground for road construction and related industries for more than 40 years. The local business was purchased by Aggregate Industries and operated for another decade.
But the final, hoped-for stage in the life cycle of any quarry is rehabilitation, and for Goshen’s Fidler Pond Park and Pavilion, that ambition was realized. The former gravel pit has been fully restored to vibrancy as a site of outdoor recreation and community connection.
The city acquired the 100-acre site from Aggregate Industries for $550,000 in 2012. After that, the turnaround was relatively swift: Renamed for the Fidler family, the open space officially opened in 2016 to provide residents with access to fishing and kayaking on an 80-acre lake and a 1.5-mile walking trail. Open-air Chiddister Pavilion is available for rent at the site, as well, with the Rock the Quarry Triathalon held annually in August.
3. The Hawks
Brownfield Site: Hawks Furniture Co. – 303 River Race Dr
Bearing the name of the furniture company that operated on the Mill Race during the second half of the 19th Century, The Hawks development of today offers a bright combination of residential and commercial space.
The Hawks is one of nine brownfield sites along the Millrace Canal industrial corridor, part of a larger redevelopment plan devised by the city in partnership with Ball State University.
Today the mixed-use building serves as the new home for the offices of surveying company Abonmarche Consulting and 35 one and two-bedroom loft apartments, tenants benefiting from the broader brownfield recovery efforts of which it was a part: connection to nature through new and revitalized walking trails and a bustling brewery.
4. Mill Street Park
Brownfield Site: Quality Drive-Away – 212 Prospect Ave
This former brownfield most recently served as a location for Quality Drive Away, a business focused on transportation and relocation of RVs. When the company moved in 2001, then-owner Omer Kropf donated the land and building to the city making room for more green in Goshen: Mill Street Park.
The 11-acre parcel – part of Goshen’s manufacturing base for more than a century – is now home to community gardens, a welcoming space for children complete with climbing and playground equipment, and the Allan J. Kauffman Pavilion, a facility available for rent by the public.
And like the best redevelopment opportunities offered by brownfields, Mill Street Park promotes greater connectedness and support for infill in the heart of Goshen, tying back into the Pumpkinvine Trail.
5. Goshen Brewing Company
Brownfield Site: NIPSCO, 315 Washington St
Bands play on a small stage erected in the green field outside Goshen Brewing Company during summer. In winter, fire pits on the patio keep patrons warm, beers in hand. The setting is pastoral – its location adjacent to the Millrace Trail provides easy access to area bikers – so if you didn’t already know, you’d never be able to guess: beautiful GBCo occupies land reclaimed from industrial use.
In 2012, the city of Goshen spent $1.5 million to remove contaminated soil from the brownfield site where Goshen Brewing now stands. What was once the location of a NIPSCO building (now closed for the better part of two decades), is now GBCo, solar panels now in place completing the parcel’s transformation to vibrant environmental contributor.
In May 2022, the brewery that quickly grew to become a beloved institution marked seven years in operation, its success as a redevelopment project and as an example of community building.
Collaborative living flourishes on a brownfield site once deemed too polluted for residential development with the Millrace Cohousing community. The development includes 14 individual residences and one common house that facilitates up to three shared meals each month for members of the community.
The idea of creating a cohousing development on the almost-six acres in downtown was first explored in 2009, but initial clean-up efforts at the site revealed more work would be needed before the land could be repurposed for housing. A second remediation attempt produced better results – about 3,000 yards of contaminated soil were subsequently removed – and home construction began in 2016.
Learn more about what cohousing in Goshen has to offer its community online.
7. Park Thirty-Three Apartments
Brownfield Site: Former Hotel Complex – 1401 Park 33 Blvd
A modern apartment complex now stands on the site of this former brownfield, a structure that was once a hotel before fire and neglect rendered it unsafe.
Following the city’s purchase of the property from the county, the new development was eventually christened Park Thirty-Three Apartments in 2018. The new building added 188 residential units to the Goshen community, offering one-, two-, and three-bedroom floorplans throughout the two-story complex.
Visit their website to learn more or to check space availability.
8. Powerhouse Park on the Race
Brownfield Site: Former Power Substation – W Washington Street
Goshen’s Powerhouse Park holds a paver patio, benches, and intentional green space. Tucked against the Millrace, visitors to the park can watch the Elkhart River in the place where transformers once stood as part of a power substation.
Today, the fine arts festival Arts on the Millrace calls this former brownfield site home each September. A stage is erected in the grass, and local music plays on land reclaimed for community use. The park also served as the starting point for spring’s Backyard Bike-in With the Mayor, a city-wide gathering featuring food trucks and family activities.
Powerhouse Park is also available for rent through the city for special events and weddings. Contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (574) 534- 2901 or visit their office at 524 E. Jackson St. for more information.
Good of Goshen Editor: Wendy Wilson
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