Fortville set to begin downtown transformation in $9M project

FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Construction is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks for a $9 million downtown development project in Fortville.

Adam Zaklikoswki, planning administrator for the town in northwestern Hancock County, said the project has been in the works since 2014, as more and more shoppers and residents find their way to the town from booming city of Fishers and nearby Lawrence and the Geist Reservoir area.

“Certainly, all of the growth that’s happening in Hamilton County and the McCordsville area, it keeps pushing east,” said Zaklikowski, giving 24-Hour News 8 a tour of Fortville’s Main Street stretch. “We’ve got a really great historic downtown, as you can see, and we’d like to improve upon that by adding fresh infrastructure.”

Zaklikowski said the town’s plan is threefold: beautify Main Street, improve lighting and safety along Michigan Street, and create a paved walk-bike trail connecting downtown Fortville to Mt. Vernon Schools.

“On the trail component, it’s really an excellent opportunity to have that physical connection, a great way to get out and have some good exercise, get some fresh air,” Zaklikowski said.

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He said his development team was inspired by Zionsville’s downtown village in Boone County, although they want to develop their downtown in their own way.

“We want Fortville to be unique. We don’t want to be kind of a nameless suburb,” he said. “We definitely want to keep that small-town feel.”

The improvements to beautify Main Street include new sidewalks, curbs and lighting along with new street trees and a crosswalk. Zaklikowski said a portion of the project should be complete by fall 2019 and will cost $2.5 million.

The Michigan Street improvements are primarily safety-related, involving the addition of streetlights and also ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, all for about $500,000. That project should conclude by summer.

Finally, the trail connecting downtown Fortville to the Mt. Vernon school complex will cost $6 million. The 2-mile long, 10-feet wide, paved trail will begin at Garden Street and Fortville Pike. He hopes to begin construction in March 2020.

People at businesses along Main Street said they’re excited about the plan and are already benefiting from the uptick in costumers from out of town.

Zaklikowski said 80 percent of the $9 million development project will be funded from a federal grant the town has been awarded. Taxpayers will pick up the remaining 20 percent of the bill.

He said Fortville residents can expect to see construction begin within the next few weeks, starting with the streetlights and sidewalk ramps along Michigan Street.

Employees of FoxGardin Family Kitchen in Fishers said they are doing so well that they have opened up a second location, FoxGardin Kitchen and Ale, in Fortville, just 7 minutes away, and are considering a third in the town of just 4,000 people.

“For us, we’d just like to keep growing,” said Spencer Wood, FoxGardin’s office manager. “We get a lot of people from Geist and Fishers and the north side of Indy; also, the east side.”

Wood said she moved to Fortville two years ago for the position at FoxGardin and was surprised to see how the town has developed.

“It’s poppin now,” she said, referencing new businesses along Main Street including a winery. “You know everyone is just really thriving.”