VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - The former International Paper site has been one of controversy as of late, but plans are now in the works to share the space with something everyone can benefit from.
A five-year-old dream could become a reality for Tim Drake and his family.
"We just really want to take what's here, kind of clean it up, make it look nice," he said.
On Wednesday, Drake and his family announced plans to turn part of the International Paper site into a music venue.
While the name has not been finalized, Drake said they are planning to call it "The Mill". It would be transformed into an in and outdoor concert and event space.
It's what Drake considers a "baby Ruoff", a smaller version of the Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana.
He says the idea would be to house events, similar to Blues at the Crossroads, in a definite space. Events like weddings and banquets could also be hosted there.
"We're looking for probably 10 to 15 major shows out back, 4,000, 5,000 person shows," he said, "Inside, it's going to be about a 500 person venue."
Drake estimates it will take about $1.5 million to get The Mill up and running. In the meantime, excitement is building, especially among county commissioners.
"We always said this area, there's going to be someone that's interested in this piece no matter what's on the other side," said County Commissioner Judy Anderson.
For a while, county commissioners have also had their eye on the IP site as the new home for the proposed jail project.
If this concert/event venue were to be added, Anderson said it would not interfere with the new jail facility or its plans. Overall, she said it will help add to the property.
"With what we paid for it, and the use that we're going to use, having an income to help generate some revenue is going to be awesome," she said.
Anderson said the commissioners were thrilled to be approached about the project. She says they plan to work together moving forward.
"We will talk to him and kind of negotiate the size of land that each one needs and those things," said Anderson, "The city has approached us wanting some, and so we'll make those decisions later. Just to know that he's going to do something with this beautiful old building, that in itself is marvelous."
As far as potentially being neighbors with a new jail, Drake said he doesn't mind.
"First off, I have no problem working with the jail, being next to them," he said, "I think it's very safe for us to be here, having them as a neighbor."
"Second off, this property, the amount of history that's been here, we hope to basically just build upon that," he added, "We're expecting probably 150,000 people a year once we get up and running. We're just a few blocks away from restaurants, hotels, 70 and 41, the intersection right there. We hope to kind of build upon that, and I think that will trickle throughout the whole community."
While the idea is still in its beginning stages, Drake hopes to have some movement on the project by January 2019.
"Hopefully we get everything, paperwork wise, signed and done January 1st, we're going to get moving on this," he said, "So, depending on the weather, April-May, we hope to have at least something going on with this building. The back venue probably won't be up and going for a year, possibly two years down the road."
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