Van Wert Forward Project underway, revitalizing 'the heart and soul of our city'

Phase one will cost about $26 million and will be complete in about 12-18 months. In total, the multi-phase project could cost between $80-100 million.

Posted: Nov 2, 2021 4:56 PM
Updated: Nov 3, 2021 8:21 AM

VAN WERT, Ohio (WFFT) -- Driving through downtown Van Wert looks a little different now.

Besides the usual traffic, there’s protective fencing on the sidewalk and sounds of construction.

The first phase of the Van Wert Forward Project is underway, renovating 11 buildings in town to attract new business.

“This downtown is the heart and soul of our city,” property manager Hall Block said. “We built that up and we think that builds a strong foundation for the rest of the city.”

Kim Brandt has worked in Van Wert for 21 years.

“It’s like home basically,” she said. “It is like my hometown.”

She’s hoping the revitalization will bring in more businesses to downtown, but she wants one thing to stay the same.

“I hope that they maintain that hometown feel, like the small-town feel,” Brandt said.

Renovations have already started on the interior of a building on the corner of Main Street and Washington Street.

Block said one of the ground floor sections will have a restaurant, while the upper floors will be used for apartments and residential spaces.

Seth Baker, the CEO of the Van Wert County Foundation, said the financial portion of the first phase will be finished by the end of this year.

“[This will] allow us to really kick in full force on the construction,” Baker said.

The first phase will cost about $26 million, with about $1 million coming from taxpayer dollars and the rest from tax credits, grants and interest on previous funding.

The estimated total cost for the project is now $80-100 million.

“As we continue to acquire properties and start to understand what the complexities are with those particular properties, that cost grows up,” Baker said.

The first phase is estimated to be completed in 12 to 18 months.

There will be either four or five phases, and a total of 50 buildings will be updated.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
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Marion2005922494
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
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Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
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Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
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Mercer8640111
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Preble8002160
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Ottawa7629120
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Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
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Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
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Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
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