ANGOLA — The Angola Historic Preservation Commission approved a “Plan B” facade improvement for The Venue, 110 W. Maumee St., during a meeting held earlier this month.

Voting yes were commission members Andrea Mitofsky, Paul Beckwith, Kim Bordner and Jodie Church. Member Lou Ann Homan voted no. Members Lee Sauer and Heather Burkett were absent. County historian Peg Dilbone also is on the commission, but is not a voting member.

Earlier this year, The Venue proposed some major facade renovations that would possibly make the building go from non-contributing to contributing status, making it eligible for grant money from the Indiana Historic Renovation Grant Program.

“We’re now fairly confident the grant won’t be an option,” said Wade Stiefken of Hydrotech Building Solutions on behalf of the property owners. “In talking with the state and OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs), we found the building is not contributing and, in order to make it contributing, they wanted us to remove the entire facade and then they would make a determination.”

A contributing building is one that adds to the historic integrity of the local historic district. Downtown Angola is a commercial historic district.

Stiefken continued, saying there was a good chance the front of the building could be removed and the project still denied grant money.

“We also found out that grant money was gone for this year,” he said. “So we’re really leaning toward option B.”

A lot of the design is similar, but the mansard canopy roof currently on the building will be staying and the wood replaced with metal. In the original plan, the roof was coming off and staying that way.

The cost differences between the first proposed design and the design approved Oct. 1, Stiefken said, was around $100,000.

Without grant money, Stiefken said building owner Rhonda Hanson would be unlikely to recoup her extra costs if Plan A were pursued.

“We can’t force her to spend that kind of money,” said Bordner.

The new plan will still leave the building as non-contributing, said Angola Downtown Services Coordinator Maria Davis.

“It’s already non-contributing,” said Deb Parcell of Indiana Landmarks. “If we hadn’t seen Plan A, we would say Plan B is much improved.”

Indiana Landmarks, she said, has advocated for a Plan B to be in place, just in case, since the project was in its earliest stages.

“They’re in a no-win situation, in a sense,” said Davis. “Should they rip off the facade and get the building to contributing status, any electrical work sticking out has to be dealt with immediately.”

Davis continued, saying it could be months before money would be approved, if at all. If the building still wasn’t deemed contributing, there would be no chance for Historic Renovation Grant Program grant money.

Parcell said there have been similar projects in the state that had hoped to be named contributing to qualify for grants, had work done, but the building was still not deemed contributing.

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