CHARLESTOWN - The City of Charlestown’s Redevelopment Commission hosted a Municipal Growth Summit on Monday, Jan. 23, to discuss the unprecedented growth the area is experiencing. Important topics included development of the city, its past trends, and projected future growth with specifics on housing, business development, industrial prospects, transportation, infrastructure, and quality of life initiatives.
Mayor Treva Hodges and Wheatley Group Founder, Paul Wheatley, led the presentation among approximately 100 stakeholders and business persons, focusing first on the people of Charlestown as a population and as a demographic. Trends in growth of housing as well as businesses in the area show that there is a need for further development in the community. Wheatley noted that in 2014, 28 building permits were issued, but in 2022 there were 169 permits. Business growth has also contributed to the nearly 1000 new jobs in the city.
Additionally, the city has prioritized the removal of numerous old buildings in order to encourage new developments to come to the city under the Façade Improvement Program. Other businesses who did not apply for the program are encouraged to take advantage of the aid this program offers to improve the external visibility of their buildings. This all coincides with several enhancements being made to the downtown area, including the renovation of City Hall and the repair and installation of several new sidewalks and various changes around the city square that make it walkable and accessible.
The growth of the city is spearheaded by the industrial developments taking place in River Ridge in conjunction with the planned investments of commercial and retail buildings in Shadow Lake. Dan Cristiani has gathered an estimated 700 acres of land to be used for a single and multi-family housing area that will be known as Shadow Brook Farm as well as Shadow Lake Business Park which will feature both industrial and commercial/retail opportunities. The spirits company Sazerac additionally plans to build a $408 million dollar plant off of Highway 62, which is estimated to create an additional 300 jobs.
Dan Cristiani Excavating Co. has made excess of $168 million in industrial building investments towards Shadow Lake and an additional $4.5 million in public infrastructure projects, the money from which will be used for several road infrastructure projects, such as a signalized intersection on Highway 62. The city has dedicated themselves to additional wastewater treatment improvements and has welcomed a $16 million dollar investment by Indiana American Water for a new water filtration and treatment plant.
Land donations for parks were discussed as well, along with the previous donation of 106 acres of land by the River Ridge Development Authority, the City received in 2022 an additional 70 acres of park land donated by Sharon Kleinert adjacent to the Shadow Lake Business Park and 7.8 acres adjacent to the existing Dog Park donated by Rick Wheeler. The parks will receive general improvements such as updated and new facilities, updated playgrounds, and an integrated trail system.
"Hosting this summit was an important part of our development strategy that prioritizes collaboration,” Mayor Hodges said. “We want to grow responsibly and with our existing residents in mind. This helps us keep our small town feel while building a future that offers all the amenities our community wants and needs.”
Link to PDF of Municipal Growth Summit presentation
WDRB – Charlestown leaders hold 'Growth Summit' as city looks to future development
News & Tribune – Charlestown growth summit assesses its growth and future
Release provided by Charlestown High School WPMQ student staff members Sam England and Ellie Jenkins; Photos were contributed by Aiden Stewart.