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Possibilities In Paoli

Possibilities In Paoli

April 22, 2022

Home Expo to showcase innovative housing in Paoli on June 4

PAOLI, Ind. – The public is invited to a Home Showcase and Remodeling Expo on Saturday, June 4. The event will be held at the site of a new model home built by the Lost River Career Cooperative students under the guidance of construction trades department instructor Jon Shellenberger. The event, called “Possibilities in Paoli,” will be hosted by the Paoli Housing Task Force. 

The event will take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 729 East Water Street in Paoli. Parking will be available at College Hill Apartments with shuttle service to the Model Home event. Businesses interested in participating in the expo can email info@ocedp.com or call 812-936-3388 for more information.

“Whether you are looking to build a new home, remodel one or renovate and repair what you have, it will be worth your while to attend,” said Danny Hickman, Paoli Town Council President. 

Several resources will be available at the expo, including:

  • Tour of model home 
  • Floorplan, itemized cost analysis of the Model Home
  • Map of Paoli properties ( interactive)
  • Vendors from “all things housing” to offer ideas and consultation

There are several innovative techniques used in the model home that will be on display. They include: 

  • Insulated concrete form walls that increase energy efficiency and reduce construction costs
  • Compact, yet open layout
  • Passive solar design

“While this home has been sold, we hope it will serve as a model for future housing development,” explained project manager Phil Mininger. He continued, “It is super energy-efficient and will fit on many of the long, narrow lots that Paoli has in the town limits. It was designed with that in mind.” 

The home’s design was led by Indiana University Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design faculty member Jon Racek and inspired by the work of his students in a partnership with Orange County residents through IU Center for Rural Engagement initiatives.

“We are so fortunate to have the partnerships we do with Indiana University, our local Career Cooperative and the many folks who continue to help improve housing in our area,” said Martha Nice, chairperson of the Taskforce. She said that more than 400 Paoli residents completed a survey that helped prioritize needs. 

“Many folks said they had trouble with down payments and qualifying for a loan. So we worked with our financial institutions to set up classes and individual counseling for that. Some prefer apartments, so we are working with a developer on that project. The Planning Commission lowered the required square footage for a home to 700 sq. feet. That makes projects like tiny homes feasible, and we have a contractor planning to do at least a couple of those,” said Nice. 

More information about all of the  task force activities and resources the group is developing is available at: https://bit.ly/paolihousingtaskforce

The group strives to have 25 homes built or renovated by 2025 through partnerships with community organizations, developers and builders, financial institutions and local, state and federal programs

Like many rural communities across the state and nation, Orange County’s affordable and desirable housing stock is lagging behind demand. New housing stock has increased less than 2 percent between 2014 and 2019, the lowest percentage of Orange County housing stock recorded in U.S. Census data tracking back to 1939. With housing playing a critical role in resident retention and attraction, as well as workforce growth, the Paoli Housing Task Force is working in collaboration with the Orange County Economic Development Partnership, the Orange County Community Foundation and the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement to address local housing needs.

“The mission of Orange County Economic Development Partnership is to improve the lives of our citizens through activities that promote economic development,” said Kristal Painter, executive director, Orange County Economic Development Partnership. “Housing is a huge part of improving the lives of our current and future citizens in our community.  A study conducted in 2019 stated we needed to add additional housing to our existing inventory. It’s exciting to see the community of Paoli use innovative ideas to bring additional housing opportunities to our county.”