NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- With its brick walls and neon sign, the old Reisz Furniture building adds an old-fashioned flavor to East Main Street as a throwback to the bygone days of New Albany.
"I never knew my grandparents, but I kind of picture them walking around down here and going into these shops," Alyssa Grimes-Welch, a hair stylist at Salon B across the street from the Reisz building, said.
Built in the late 1840s, the Reisz building - named for the Reisz Furniture Company that moved into the space in the 1940s until it closed up shop in 1974 - is showing its age with its coats of paint peeling off and its windows boarded up with rusting metal.
"This being one of the early commercial buildings, it's very important to hold onto that heritage," Dave Barksdale, the Floyd County historian, said.
The building has had many lives as a furniture store, a shirt factory, a flour mill, a saddle and harness store, and even a funeral home. But soon it will take on a new life as city hall.
"I really felt if the city didn't step up and save this building, I don't know if we'd have any investors do, because I think some of them got scared off from it," Barksdale said.
The New Albany Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously to fund several historical preservation projects in New Albany, including one that would renovate the Reisz building and move the city's operations into the space, consolidating city operations and saving taxpayer dollars in the long run.
"The city has been renting their offices or the third floor, and I forget how many millions of dollars that equates up until now," Barksdale, who is also a redevelopment commissioner, said.
The city rents space from the county building authority at nearly $190,000 per year, according to a statement from the Mayor's Office. The new building, which will have 23,000 square feet of space, will cost the city $9.20 per square foot. The city currently leases its 7,000-square foot space in the city-county building at $25.71 per square foot.
"It's really nice to see things changing and being appreciated and turned into something useful," Grimes-Welch said.
The focus may be on what happens to the building, but Barksdale, who also serves as a city councilman, said the renovation is about more than just 146 East Main Street.
"Over the past, I would say five to ten years, New Albany has seen an unprecedented growth in its downtown," he said.
"The town has changed so much since I left that it made me really excited to come home and be a part of this community one more time," Grimes-Welch said.
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