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Remains of the old City Methodist Church

City Methodist Church on way to be a "Ruins Garden" park

Contributed By:The 411 News

Gary Redevelopment named winner of 2017 Knight Cities Challenge

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge, awarding $163,333 to the Gary Redevelopment Commission for the City Church Ruins Garden. Knight support will fund the first phase of development for a ruins garden park at the abandoned City Methodist Church, located at 6th Avenue and Washington Street.

From more than 4,500 proposals, the Redevelopment Commission’s ruins garden project was chosen as one of 33 winning ideas for the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge. The support will be used to transform the blighted former City Methodist Church into a safe, aesthetically unique space for cultural programming and tourism, selectively restoring and demolishing portions of the structure to create an open-air community gathering space.

“Creating spaces for Gary’s residents to meet and connect across backgrounds and income levels is essential to community building. By restoring the vibrancy of a historic landmark, this project leverages the city’s history and heritage while helping bind people to place,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations.

In addition to Knight Foundation’s support, the Redevelopment Commission has pledged funds for an architectural and engineering study, in order to develop a strategy for reinforcing the existing structure and selectively demolishing portions of the original building that are beyond repair. The first phase of the project, to be completed by December 2018, will focus on the former sanctuary, clearing out rubble, stabilizing the vaulted pillars and limestone façade, and creating a structurally sound and secure area for visitors to view one of Gary’s most notable architectural landmarks.

When complete, the City Church Ruins Garden will be one of the largest ruins gardens in the country, encouraging tourism and providing a creative public green space downtown. The ruins garden will serve as an innovative example for adaptive reuse; instead of restoring the church to its former design, the space will be reinvented as an open area with an impressive backdrop of a gothic church.

At its June 7 meeting, the commission approved an advertisement seeking a structural engineering assessment for the former church.

This is the third year in a row a Gary project has won a Knight Cities Challenge award, following a $650,000 award for the ArtHouse culinary incubator in 2015, and a $385,000 award for the Steel City Salvage deconstruction program in 2016. The Knight Cities Challenge seeks ideas that help make cities more vibrant places to live and work, focusing on three drivers of city success: Keeping and attracting talent, expanding opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement.

The Redevelopment Commission will soon announce dates for its “Community Conversations” to engage citizens to establish the design and function of the ruins garden space.

Story Posted:06/12/2017

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