Downtown Renewal

RECAP grant program funds
downtown Vevay revitalization

Former business comes to
life through new owners

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

VEVAY, Ind. (June 2010) – Dawn Shell found it hard to drive by the building every day that had once housed her father’s former Dairy Queen business in Vevay. Having always worked in the food industry, Shell knew she would one day buy the empty building and restore it to an eatery of which her father could be proud.

Shell's Ice Cream

Photo by Don Ward

Shell's Ice Cream is now a popular
spot in downtown Vevay.

In 1968, Shell’s father bought the business in which she “grew up,” said Shell. She worked there for a few weeks out of every summer when she was a teenager. Her father sold the business after 20 years to concentrate on other investments.
“It made me sick to drive by the building years later and see what a state of disrepair it had fallen into,” she said. A second eatery opened for a brief time in the building, but then it sat empty for two years until becoming available through a sheriff’s sale.
Located at 805 E. Main St., Shell knew the building would need a lot of renovating, but she was up for the challenge. Along with her three children and mother, she now operates Shell’s Ice Cream and Grill, a 1950s style ice cream shop and grill, complete with jukebox and the only drive-thru in Vevay.
Shell was able to restore the facade of the building with funding she received through the Real Estate Capital Access Program, or RECAP, Large Project Facade Grant. It was in need of structural and parking lot repairs, landscaping and a roof. “We reconstructed the outside and added signage,” she said.
Though Shell would have been able to do the work without the grant, it was “so nice to have it,” she said. “We were able to do extra things with it that wouldn’t have worked out financially without the grant.”
Shell is one of several recipients of funding from RECAP. This program is aimed at redeveloping main streets throughout rural Indiana. It is a joint effort between the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
“Vevay was selected as one of three pilot communities for the RECAP program,” said David Attaway, Executive Director of Switzerland County Tourism. Already in place was an “exciting initiative. Our ideas are tourism-based.”

Dawn Shell

Photo courtesy of Kendall Miller

Dawn Shell is among the Vevay area
business owners who took advantage
of the RECAP funds to renovate her
building, Shell’s Ice Cream & Grill.

Feasibility and market studies had to be conducted before projects were chosen to receive funding. There were stipulations on who could apply based on geography, said Attaway. “The projects had to be consolidated enough to see progress.”
Businesses awarded money supplied matching funds for the projects. The total amount of money dispensed through the RECAP program in Vevay was $364,500.
Lisa and Jerry Fisher received the maximum $30,000 matching grant. The Fishers own the Schenck Mansion Bed & Breakfast, a 35-room mansion built in 1874 by Benjamin Franklin Schenck. The B&B is located at 206 W. Turnpike St.
“We applied for RECAP grant funding because we wanted and needed to make some improvements to expand our business,” said Lisa Fisher. The money was used to construct a new driveway and bridge, install terracing and landscaping, and add a patio area to better serve outdoor wedding guests.
“We do have a tremendous amount of upkeep with a property like this,” Fisher said. “One of the best things about the grant is that the improvements were all things that help with maintaining the outer appearance.”
When originally restoring the old house, the Fishers won first prize in the Preserving Indiana contest sponsored by Preservation Magazine.
A lot of time and effort have gone into restoring the mansion, whose interior is furnished with original fixtures.
Without RECAP funding, the Fishers would have accomplished some of the recent facade work on their own, but on a smaller scale. “The grant enabled us to do what we really wanted,” she said.
The couple has had very positive responses from guests on the facade improvements. “We think anything that can give your business or town more curb appeal is very important to tourism traffic.”
Other projects in Vevay awarded RECAP funding include the Grisard Building, a property at 319 Ferry St. that will become Ferry Street Woodworks when it opens this fall; Los Banditos, a new Mexican restaurant that has opened downtown; the Switzerland County Historical Society, which plans to convert a garage into an office; and improvements on the Switzerland County Courthouse grounds, among others.

Back to June 2010 Articles.



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