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Marion Design Co. committed to downtown

UNCERTAIN LOCATION: How much longer Marion Design Co will be located inside the Salin Bank building at 302 S. Washington St. remains to be seen, as the County Council has given the Grant County Commissioners permission to sell the building. Wendy Puffer, a co-founder of the graphic design studio, said she is confident that Marion Design Co. will remain downtown, even if it's in a different building.

BY Spencer Durham - sdurham@chronicle-tribune.com

Marion Design Co.'s days in the Salin Bank building may be numbered, as plans are in the works to put the building up for sale. Yet, those with the graphic design studio do not expect the possible sale to affect their work downtown.

The Grant County Commissioners own the Salin Bank building at 302 S. Washington St. and have allowed Marion Design Co. to use the first floor of the building since 2016.

“Ever since they went in, we told them they could be there as long as the county owns it,” said County Commissioner Mike Burton.

The County Council gave the commissioners the nod to sell the building at the final council meeting of 2018.

Burton said the board had various plans for the building over the years, though they never panned out.

One was a possible location for central dispatch, though that eventually fizzled out. The idea for central dispatch has been kicked around over the years and came up again in 2018 when the County Council withheld some funding from Marion Police Chief Angela Haley, requesting she come up with a plan for central dispatch.

Burton said they also considered using the building as additional county space for hard copy storage such as legal documents as well as for county office spaces. Neither came to fruition.

“Once we got to looking, we didn't think that would be the way to go,” Burton said last week on possible office space usage.

“... We decided to put it up for sale because we have no further plans for Salin,” he added.

In the commissioner's meeting on Monday, there will be a public hearing on the sale of the building. It has already been appraised for $425,000 and $429,700. The commissioners will set a minimum bid for the property, though it is unknown what that amount will be.

What will happen with Marion Design Co. remains to be seen.

For Wendy Puffer, a co-founder of the studio, the uncertainty is not cause for concern.

“Even if we're not in that building, we will be downtown,” she said. “... We're not at all concerned with not being downtown.”

Maintaining a presence on the square is “top priority” for Puffer, who also serves a chief placemaking officer.

“The benefits of us being downtown is that the interaction between us and the city is two ways,” she said. “We get to see people more, but we are also accessible.”

Puffer is unsure of where Marion Design Co. will go if they cannot remain in Salin Bank, but is confident they can remain downtown, preferably on the square.

The studio, which is ran by Indiana Wesleyan University students and professors, has worked with the city on branding, including a new logo and website. Marion Design Co. is part of the Marion downtown revitalization plan too.

In addition to the first floor tenant, Burton said the second floor is utilized for law enforcement training. He said they are “exploring options” on where training may be moved.

Burton told the County Council that the “private sector” has shown interest in the building. The commissioners approved the installation of two rooftop heating units in 2017, which added value to the property.

“Structurally, it's real sound,” Burton said. “I believe the interior looks nicer than the County Complex.”

The commissioners' meeting is Monday at 2 p.m. in the County Council Chambers.