'Positive Progress' Made on Planned McCurdy Renovations

For years, the plans to transform an Evansville mainstay have never come to fruition. After several meetings and a court-affirmed order to make repairs, the owner of the historic McCurdy building says substantial, positive progress has been made.

For years, the plans to transform an Evansville mainstay have never come to fruition. After several meetings and a court-affirmed order to make repairs, the owner of the historic McCurdy building says substantial, positive progress has been made.

At a hearing back in December, the court affirmed the City's order to have The Kunkel Group, the developer, complete a long list of repairs in order to get the McCurdy building up to code. The historic landmark, which was built during World War I, has continued to fall into disrepair over the years. The awnings are torn, some windows are shattered and plywood dots the windows on the ground floor of the historic structure. Kunkel and city officials met Thursday afternoon for a progress report.

Many code violations have been rectified, according to Ben Miller from the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Commission. Furthermore, Kunkel has secured some waivers from the state for some of the other violations.

Both parties agreed that rectifying the remaining violations such as the absence of a working fire sprinkler system would require substantial financing.
"We've been back and forth. The McCurdy was built a long time ago and it's very difficult to make it meet today's building codes," Miller said. "Their approvals expired in October and those had been extended and extended. From a design standpoint, [Kunkel] now has to start completely over."
The fresh start seems to have had some initial success, Miller said, and both sides have continued to have an open dialogue.

"I think the City and McCurdy Development LLC are on the same page in wanting to get this done," said Shawn Sullivan, the attorney representing McCurdy Development LLC. "Financing isn't anything you can get in a week or two. We're pursuing this with all due diligence. More than the city, we want to get this project up and going."

Also at Thursday's hearing, officials detailed some of the plans for the historic property. The McCurdy building could be transformed into more than 100 upscale apartment units as well as a restaurant or bar on the bottom floor.

"The building has a huge historical character to it. It's a mainstay and it's right down there on the river," Sullivan said. "There's quite a need for downtown housing and so we hope to fulfill that need with a great development."

Kunkel's building plans could feature additional waivers from the state and could be ready within two weeks, Miller said. Once the plans are approved, permits are issued and financing has been secured, construction could begin.

There is another progress hearing scheduled for mid-April.

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