Members of the Urban Enterprise Association are finally seeing the results of a project they decided to pursue two years ago.
The UEA owns 316-318 Main St., the old Albert’s building which now houses both the Knox County Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Territory Art Guild.
After deciding to keep the building indefinitely in early 2018, that summer they decided to pursue a restoration of its facade as well. They hired local contractor Sherm Jenne, the owner of Jenne Renovation and Construction, to, among other projects, repair the tile in the building’s main entrance as well as expose and replace some windows on the building’s second floor. The project, too, included some fresh paint.
The work didn’t immediately begin, however, and then the UEA asked him to hold off last year as their funds ran low.
They gave him the green light earlier this year, but then Jenne wasn’t able to get started amid concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19.
He was able to begin recently, and he reported to UEA members during their meeting Tuesday night, held at the city’s Tade Building at the corner of First and Hart streets, that he is nearly done.
The tile for the new entry way is on back order, explained UEA executive director Dan Ravellette, and isn’t expected for another month.
“But that’s the last thing that needs done,” Ravellette said.
The UEA, seeing most of the work complete, voted to go ahead and pay him the $5,600 owed for the job.
The board also this week heard from Kaitlyn Ashby, who owns Brush and Blush, a hair and makeup salon at 516 Main St.
Ashby, who earlier this year was named one of the Chamber’s 5 Under 40 winners, has purchased the former Esco Walks Building at 320 Main St.
Ravellette said she now co-owns the building with a family member and plans to expand her salon into its main floor.
It’s a building that has worried city officials for years, specifically a rear exterior brick wall that, since it’s separating from the main structure, posed a danger to other structures and passers-by.
Former city inspector Philip Cooper kept a close eye on the three-story building after condemning it in 2013 and ordering its then occupants, gamers with Legends, out.
Eventually, local contractor Steve Wolfe bought it. He made some repairs to the storefront, specifically in replacing its windows, and put a new roof on it, too.
He also shored up that back wall temporarily, but Ashby is ready to move forward with a permanent fix.
Ashby came armed with two local estimates for the work — one from Hendrixson Concrete and another from Sure Clean — and the UEA voted to give her $30,000 toward the overall project.
“That building has been a prominent building in downtown Vincennes for many years,” Ravellette said. “The board wants to do its part to see it restored, to keep it and to avoid any possibility of it falling down or being torn down.
“We don’t want to see an empty space there. We want to keep that (project) going.”