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Next steps being taken in Elkhart River District plan

New details in Elkhart’s River District Plan to totally revitalize and expand the downtown area are coming to light, but some business owners who could soon be impacted by that project say they’re being left in the dark.

Redevelopment officials tell ABC57 News a special meeting Tuesday will be the first of four major redevelopment meetings where they will talk finances to get the process moving forward.

“I mean any improvement is always a good thing, I see it as a good thing but it’s unclear of where this project is going basically,” said Laura Perry, Owner of IFind Resale in Elkhart’s Easy Shopping Place.

It’s time to get down to business on the highly anticipated project so city officials are preparing to talk about more financial details since Redevelopment Commission officials say it’s the next step in moving forward. The locations up for discussion: Easy Shopping Place and a vacant lot across the street; about 10 acres of land total and an estimated $28 million redesign.

The only problem, business owners inside the Easy Shopping plaza say they’re not totally sure of what’s going on.

“We basically don’t know a whole lot because there’s not been a whole lot of communication,” said Perry.

Perry, who owns a local resale business there, says she and her husband have attended as many meetings as possible, but other than that….

“We don’t know. We don’t know if we’re staying here, whether they’re going to want us to move and if so where are they wanting us to move? I mean this is kind of a big store so that’s going to take a lot of planning on our part,” said Perry.

And Perry says they’re losing more than half of their customers during the first construction phase already happening out front, but are fighting to hold on and hopefully be part of the future developments.

“We’re down 58% so far year-to-date due to this construction and so it’s a struggle but we’re trying to hang in there at the same time. We had signs put up and we’re also advertising in the local papers and we also have a Facebook page where letting all of our customers know that we are still here, we are still open,” said Perry.

But they’re not exactly sure if it’s going to be worth the fight.

“My whole goal would be to stay here. I really don’t want to look at moving, not sure if we’re going to get a choice but I’d like to know that. Are we going to be informed or is someone just going to show up and say ‘the property has been sold’ and we’re on our own basically,” said Perry.

Development officials tell ABC 57 News the two main topics on the agenda Tuesday are presenting a Resolution for Offer to Purchase the Burkhart Property and the Declaratory Resolution for establishing Allocation Area 3 for the Easy Shopping project. The meeting is set for 4:00 p.m. at City Hall in Elkhart. For more on the River District Plan itself, click here.

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