Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 23, 2014

The outside investor: Jeff Broughton is the city’s go-to guy

(Continued)

Kokomo — There’s no doubt Goodnight, who has made downtown revival and beautification the main focus of his administration, has put hope in Broughton.

The city’s Community Development Corporation deeded the old Firestone Building, 219 N. Union St., to Broughton-led investor group, Home Banc Center Inc. There are ongoing talks about Broughton possibly building housing developments at Union and Superior streets, and at Apperson Way and Mulberry Street.

The city’s director of operations, Randy McKay, said the city tried, unsuccessfully, for years to find someone to take on the work Broughton is now involved with.

“Except for Jeff and [Kokomo developer] Scott Pitcher, we’ve had no outside or inside interest in taking on these old buildings to renovate them,” McKay said. “These guys are taking a hell of a risk.”

Case in point is the Firestone Building, which is close to 90 years old and has a roof which leaks and a basement full of water. It sat on the market for close to a decade before the owner, STAR Financial Bank, donated it to the city’s redevelopment commission.

“We went in and just started taking crap out of it, seven Dumpsters full of trash so far,” Broughton said.

His idea is keeping the upstairs windows — he said he just received a delivery of glass — and creating an interior arcade, businesses surrounded by a sunlit hallway.

On Buckeye Street, he has specific tenants he wants to see brought in, creating an arts/entertainment district he’s calling Panhandle Alley.

“When I came into this market, I looked at it like this: People would say, ‘Hey, let’s go get something to eat.’ They don’t say, ‘Let’s go eat downtown,’ because there’s only one or two choices. The only way you’re going to make it a destination for restaurants is to have a variety,” Broughton said.

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