The town of Argos has cut the ribbon on its latest downtown revitalization project. On Saturday, the town celebrated the completion of efforts to transform and beautify an old train depot and vacant lot. Local leaders say the efforts, which are part of the Stellar Communities program, will support increased foot traffic and provide a greenspace that will contribute to the quality of life within the Marshall County town.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Argos Community Development Corp. President Jon VanDerWeele explains the significance of the project.
“After doing a lot of research, we wanted to help improve foot traffic to create a gathering space for people to come into our downtown,” said VanDerWeele. “Because quite honestly, there’s not a lot of reasons to come downtown unless you’re going to a specific place. So, we’re just trying to increase the amount of foot traffic within the downtown and also beautify the area.”
VanDerWeele, a lifelong Argos resident and one of two town liaisons for the Marshall County Crossroads, says the project is the most significant, and potentially most impactful, of its recent efforts to revitalize the downtown area.
“It was a vacant lot at our stoplight – the one stoplight that we have in the town of Argos – that used to be an old service station years and years ago and has basically sat vacant for years, decades,” said VanDerWeele. “It was blighted and had never really been cleaned up to full potential. It was the first priority we saw to revitalize our downtown.”
The town’s other projects include the rehabilitation of Foker Park, as well as sidewalk improvements and connectivity.
VanDerWheele, who also serves on the board of the Marshall County Economic Development Corp., says historical photos were used to restore the depot building in an effort to maintain aspects of the town’s character and identity.
“After doing research with the Stellar Crossroads team and with the [Mishawaka-based] Troyer Group, who was the lead architect, we came up with two things,” said VanDerWeele. “We came up with greenspace revitalization and gathering space, but we also tried to connect back to the history of the town.”
Moreover, VanDerWeele says the project is a huge lift for the county and has fueled more inquiries.
“People started looking at different things they could do, not only to improve quality of life, but to improve housing, arts and culture,” said VanDerWeele. “Its been a great process for the entire county to go through.”