Kokomo — Across from the old train depot, the Tudor building — a red brick, three-story warehouse dating back to the turn of the 20th century — is waiting its turn.
The roof will have to be replaced, and the interior, ruined by decades of neglect and water from the leaking roof, needs a ton of work.
No one in Kokomo was willing to take on the project, despite the city of Kokomo planning a trails project to run down North Buckeye Street, and a Washington Street apartment project rising a stone’s throw away.
Enter Jeff Broughton, the California developer who came to Kokomo to save some investor properties, and who has stayed to fund a string of downtown commercial renovations.
The California-based investor is now in the process of renovating most of the west side of the 500 block of North Buckeye Street near downtown Kokomo into what he hopes will sell as a mixed-use retail/residential development.
Inside, old plaster is coming down, new fixtures are going in and sagging roofs are being rehabbed. Some of the buildings, which were part of the old Currens-Zapfe printing business, haven’t had tenants for years, if not decades.
It’s exactly the sort of development the city of Kokomo, and its mayor, Greg Goodnight, are hoping to encourage downtown, and the outside money — Broughton doesn’t name his investors, except to say they aren’t local — is doing what local developers haven’t been willing to do.
So why does Broughton feel he’s not welcome in the City of Firsts?
“If I put $1 million into these buildings, and then lose them, who cares?” he said in an interview Thursday. “All I do is make neighborhoods better, yet there’s a lot of people who want to see me fail.”