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  • Writer's pictureForza CRE

Forza Revitalizes Downtown Lebanon

The long-awaited Brakeman building – a combination restaurant and retail space and 44 apartments above – is officially underway.

The pandemic played “brakeman” on an $8.5 million apartment building developed by the Forza in downtown Lebanon. On Monday, the mixed-use development finally broke ground after four years of planning.

“Obviously, we were planning to break ground pre-pandemic.”

— Forza Representative Travis Bonnell

The four-story building will be mainly apartments with 44 studio, one- and two-bedroom offerings at market price. The ground floor will be retail or a restaurant.

“It’s being designed as a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, slash bar, slash microbrewery-type thing is what we’re looking for.”

— Forza Representative Travis Bonnell

“That’s what it’s been designed for, but we’re going to just rough-in that piece so when we do find the right tenant we can do the necessary tenant improvements to make sure that fits the tone with the rest of the building.”

He said the biggest change over the life of the project has been the retail space which was originally planned to be 10,000-square-feet. He added that he’d really like to see one tenant take over the entire ground floor. Bonnell said the reduction of commercial space was really just seeing the greater need for housing in the current market.

When the project was first announced, the building was to be built on the former Estes car lot across Lebanon Street. However, because of the opportunity zone federal designation, the better plan was the west side of the street. Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry said the former car dealership will be turned into a parking lot for the Brakeman property.

“Our downtown footprint is expanding, and the Brakeman Building will create a fitting welcome mat along our City’s most heavily traveled street, and gateway to our downtown.”

— Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry

Eventually, that property could become phase 2 of the Forza development, but there are no current plans.

Bonnell said the removal of the New Life Recovery Home for Men building could be as early as this week. Then the building will take 18 to 24 months to complete. He said construction could begin later this fall or next March, depending on the weather.

The announcement follows the huge sports complex announcement made Oct. 14. That will be at the corner of Ind. 39 and Interstate 65.

“There’s a lot of attention on Lebanon now,” Gentry said of all the development, including Waterford and the overhaul of the courthouse square.

“We’ve prepared for growth for the last five years or so, just getting ready for this to happen.”

— Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry

Lebanon officials believe this is the first step in giving the city’s downtown a new look and feel.



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