Sixth and Main Revitalization Project Pours New Life into Downtown

 In Auburn Electric, Auburn Main Street, Auburn Water Department, City Growth, City Utilities, Community, Downtown Growth, Government, Planning and Development, Sixth & Main Revitalization Project

By Amy Schweitzer, Administrator, Department of Building, Planning & Development

This past February, the City launched the Sixth and Main Street Revitalization Project to invest in vital infrastructure improvements in Downtown Auburn. The project—which was funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs—is now complete!

If you’ve walked around downtown lately, you’ve hopefully noticed the result of all these revitalization efforts:

  • New, wider sidewalks and curbs
  • New pavement and street surfacing
  • Landscaping beautification
  • New furnishings, including benches and bike racks
  • Historic decorative lighting
  • Storm sewer improvements
  • Reduction of overhead utilities (to be removed entirely by the end of the year)
  • Dumpster enclosures

It’s a whole new look and feel that has made downtown more pedestrian-friendly. One of Auburn’s downtown business owners, Lori Berndt from The Olive Twist, said the enhancements have made downtown more of a destination for visitors—and that’s exciting for our businesses that have long called the area home!

A Collaborative Effort
If we had to sum up this project in one word, it would be collaboration. Multiple City departments were involved. The Auburn Water Department replaced a century-old water main last year in anticipation of the project. Building, Planning and Development was involved in funding, project design and communicating regularly with businesses. Engineering conducted all inspections, mapped everything and did a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Auburn Electric installed an underground duct bank and added new lines to it, provided cutover service and continues to work with other utility providers to further beautify the area.

But this was far from just a collaboration among City departments. Auburn Main Street and downtown business owners were among the biggest supporters of the project and instrumental to its success. Many made their own private investments before and during the upgrades. Donavan Insurance, for example, landscaped the area on the side of their building to create a courtyard area for their employees. And in the midst of all of the construction, many retailers and shoppe owners placed plastic hard hats as props on sale items, encouraging customers to visit despite the construction. They were champions throughout the entire process!

Crosby Excavating, the general contractor, did a great job of keeping the project moving and communicating with the City and the businesses. Construction impacts businesses and sometimes traffic or parking—it’s unavoidable. But their clear and regular communication allowed everyone to work together to keep business going throughout construction. Paper Gourmet Owner Debra Klink said that Crosby gave her a new outlook on contractors. “Their work ethic, quality and speediness was amazing,” she said. “They were mindful, courteous and proactive in letting us know what was happening and how it would impact certain sections of downtown.”

If you’ve not been downtown lately, please stop by. As Klink said, “I’ve always loved this area, but I really love it now! It’s like Sixth and Main has a new party dress!”

Auburn Main Street and the City of Auburn will recognize the revitalized downtown area with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 11 at 4:20 p.m. Held at the intersection of Sixth and Main Streets, the ceremony will include brief remarks by Lt. Governor Crouch, Mayor Yoder and a few others.

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