MADISON, Ind. (December 2003) The Main Street of New Castle,
Ky., may soon entice a new restaurant to the area due to the combined
efforts of many local citizens. Revitalization efforts are under way
to improve business in the heart of the downtown area.
by Helen McKinney
Old Locker building in New Castle.
A Renaissance Committee was formed and a proposal submitted by Aug.
29. Within three months the proposal was accepted, and the city has
been awarded a $250,000 grant. This grant amount includes enough funds
to purchase the property located at 24 S. Main St. and renovate it.
An awards ceremony was held in Frankfort, Ky., at the Capital Rotunda
on Nov. 12 to present the funds.
Mary Jane Yates is the Main Street Director for nearby Eminence, Ky.,
but has been filling in as interim Main Street director for New Castle,
while the city is without one. The New Castle City Commission assigned
a board of directors to oversee downtown revitalization efforts, and
it was Yates job to coordinate their efforts.
The Renaissance Com-mittee falls under Renaissance Kentucky, a program
created by Gov. Paul E. Patton. It was designed to bring together
communities and the necessary resources to revitalize and restore
After some paperwork exchange between Frankfort and New Castle, the
city will be able to purchase the lot, often referred to as The Locker.
The Coomes family of Henry County presently owns it.
The city plans to retain ownership of the property, said Yates. The
city will offer incentives to a tenant by contributing in-kind funds,
which will reduce the rent considerably for a period of the first
five years of occupancy. Such funds may also help with parking facilities.
Extensive renovation is needed, which will be paid for by the bulk
of the grant, said Yates. The two-story building has never contained
a restaurant before, so proper electricity and plumbing are needed.
A large room on the second floor may be used as a banquet facility
for private groups.
Were going to be very careful in the solicitation of accepted
proposals, said Yates. A table-service restaurant is sought,
where customers may sit down in a nice, friendly atmosphere for lunch
There are already two entities interested in leasing the business,
said City Commission member Andy Klempner. But he pointed out that
the Renaissance Board would proceed cautiously since this is the first
time they have done anything like this.
Each City Commissioner has an area of responsibility. My area
is Renaissance and Historic Preservation, he said. The Locker
was originally used as a buggy manufacturing shop, and there remains
inside a gear and shaft too big to move, said Klempner.
A previous market study conducted on consumer and business owners
in the area indicated that a restaurant was the number one desire
for the area, said Yates. We already had the data in place to
show that the grant was vital to New Castle. Our main focus now is
to show that receipt of the grant will provide a strong economic impact
for the community, she said.
Klempner and his wife, Debbie, formerly owned and managed a restaurant
in New Castle called the Heritage Tea Room. From experience, Klempner
learned that with a restaurant on Main Street, the merchants
did quite a bit more business. It created a lot of business
and traffic through the downtown area, he said.
A new restaurant on Main Street would make New Castle a destination
point for people from the surrounding counties of Shelby and Oldham,
as well as visitors from Louisville, Klempner said. It would provide
them with a reason to stop as they pass through on I-71 and I-64.
Yates attended a Kentucky Main Street-Renaissance Kentucky quarterly
meeting on Oct. 22-24 in Benham, Ky. All Main Street directors are
required to attend training sessions focusing on such topics as Economic
Restructuring (as part of the Kentucky Certified Main Street Manager
Training), Old Buildings-New Opportunities, and a tour of the Pine
Mountain Settlement Schools Artisan Program.
These training sessions reinforced ways to enhance what already
exists, said Yates. Through speaker presentations, attendees
learned techniques to not only draw in new business to an area, but
to support existing business as well.
Hands-on preservation methods were demonstrated at the Pine Mountain
Settlement School. Yates said that to see craftsmen at work on site
was an important aspect to the training sessions.
Out of 58 communities that applied for funding, only 12 received funding.
A maximum amount of $250,000 in grant funds is available out of a
pool of $6 million. A total of $2.8 million was awarded to these 12
communities, which included New Castle.
Both Yates and Klempner said many people worked on the grant application.
The Renaissance Board consists of 10 members, and there were also
nonmembers who contributed their ideas and knowledge.
Klempners daughter, Amy Ramsey, wrote a business plan to accompany
the grant proposal. When the grant was reviewed, New Castles
application contained what the other applications lacked,
said Klempner. Frankfort officials have indicated that the business
plan may be used as a model in the future.
Ramsey said the business plan contained an outline of everything involved
in the project: a summary of what the restaurant will be, the number
of customers it can accommodate, the management team, hours, projected
income for the first two years, a breakdown analysis and risk analysis.
Ramsey holds a job in human resources but is attending Bellarmine
University to complete her MBA. She has submitted projects similar
to the grant proposals business plan for her classes. Ramsey
is a Renaissance Board member and quickly realized we needed
a business plan.
Working with several other people, she drafted a unique business plan
for improving downtown New Castle. Having grown up in Henry County,
Ramsey thinks its a great place to call home. We see it
as a start for our future, she said of the grant.