Millrace Development Brings Goshen Apartments, Possibly An Ice Rink

It may seem like Goshen is a podunk town in the middle of nowhere, but really it’s astoundingly alive and kicking. Recent construction shows this: constant construction might be a bother when you’re trying to get to school quickly, but it’s a sign of life.
This year, the 33 bypass near downtown is almost finished, various roads downtown are under construction, roads near(ish) Bethany are constantly under construction, and the Kercher/SR 15 crossing was partially torn up and replaced. Traffic projects indicate that not only is the city receiving more traffic, but is in a good enough economic place to pay for construction- in contrast to places like Michigan, a state that in the interest of saving money has returned some asphalt roads to gravel instead of fixing them. Goshen is having no trouble funding construction projects, even if they do seem to take literally forever. These are small fish, though, compared to the more ambitious projects on the horizon. This isn’t just boring traffic infrastructure- no, the city of Goshen is planning exciting stuff.
For a long time, the Hawks building, an old furniture factory, lay vacant by the Millrace. A couple of years ago it was partially turned into apartments by La Casa, an organization that works to house impoverished people. La Casa built the Hawks building to be affordable housing, especially for artists and entrepreneurs in Goshen. Half of the building has still remained closed and undeveloped. However, now another company, Insite Development of Mishawaka, is laying out plans to build an apartment complex near the Hawks, with a parking garage in the ground floor. The company plans to invest $11 million on the construction of a “modern architectural style building featuring 54 high-quality rental apartments.” Another $3.6 million is allocated for the revamping of the north half of the Hawks building. The company also plans to build a small park. These building projects are intended to bring life and residents back to near downtown Goshen, as part of a long-term plan to improve Goshen as a place to live.
Schemes to “improve” cities have often ended in gentrification, mostly by upper-middle-class white people. When a city becomes “hip,” suddenly people move in and the prices of everything from a sandwich to rent go sky-high, often making it harder for poorer people to continue living there. Goshen is attempting to avoid this problem by things like the La Casa project, which is explicitly built as affordable housing. With all of its development goals, Goshen still wants to be a welcoming city for all. It can be complicated, looking for ways to improve while making sure the rising tide lifts all boats; but Goshen is doing its level best. Some residents worry about increased traffic flow on streets surrounding the new development, and about the safety of pedestrians on crosswalks, and these problems will need to be addressed. Programs like the Goshen Resident ID initiative help to make everyone feel like a member of the community. Also, First Fridays every month provides entertainment and fun downtown, bringing a little bit of festivity and bringing crowds of people downtown to socialize.
Other developments near downtown Goshen are in spots that have been in the process of cleanup and planning and construction for years. The River Race Cohousing project is placed on a lot between Shanklin Park and the Hawks building. The lot is a piece of land that was classified as in need of cleanup because of past environmental contamination, and many tons of soil were removed and replaced by clean soil. The Millrace Advisory Group opened for applications twice before the Millrace Neighborhood Group and Matthews LLC both were accepted, each to develop half the lot. The lot is to be a “cohousing” community- where the buyers of houses have input on the planning process of their neighborhood. 10 of the 14 spaces for houses have been spoken for. According to Meyer of the Millrace Neighborhood group, the benefits of cohousing are that “Everyone owns their own lots and builds their own house, but it also has a common house that has room for larger gatherings and guest spaces and community workshops and things that can benefit the whole community. This allows the individual houses to be smaller and more energy efficient.”
This neighborhood is meant to foster community because of the planning that went into it, and also the common house.
And the most exciting development for downtown Goshen is a proposed multi-use pavilion that would be an ice rink in the winter. The site for the proposed project is across the Millrace from the Hawks building. Mayor Jeremy Stutsman says, “This ice rink pavilion, multi-use pavilion idea, I think is going to be great for the city of Goshen. We’ve seen many, many, other communities around here do this, and it’s been fantastic.” The city hopes to raise the $2-3 million needed to build it with private donations, not by raising taxes or some other means. Feasibility studies are ongoing, looking at the site and the projected upkeep costs, among other variables. Since this is as yet only a proposal under consideration, there is no date given for when it might come to fruition. However, just the idea of it- an ice rink, right near downtown, that people could skate at in the winter- is extremely exciting.
Goshen is a great place to live. There’s a good community, a thriving downtown, and lots of improvement on the horizon. If we continue on this trend, Goshen is sure to be a great place to live for many years into the future.