The vibrancy of downtown Mount Vernon’s Central Business District has been enhanced through a long-term historic renovation effort. The Woodward Opera House, located at the intersection of South Main and West Vine Streets is now considered the oldest authentic 19th century American theater in the country, thanks to the efforts of the Woodward Development Corporation. Regular entertainment is presented by the Woodward Opera House Conservancy in the opera house, the recital hall and in the black box theater. The Ariel Foundation has partnered with both community organizations on multiple grants in support of the restoration effort and the launch of entertaining arts-based experiences that provide high quality interactions that impact the local economy.
Over the years, grants for equipment and maintenance support have been made available to a unique community asset, the Kokosing Gap Trail. This 14-mile recreational trail is a part of the former Pennsylvania Railroad line, running between Mount Vernon and Danville, Ohio.
The Ariel Foundation has partnered with the Knox County Commissioners on the renovation of the former Central School Building, originally built in 1939, and in need of significant repair. This special renovation will provide a new, more visible and accessible location for Knox County Veteran Services as a part of the development of Knox County’s campus of services.
Mount Vernon community members have long supported its YMCA. In 2019, The Ariel Foundation provided matching funds to the YMCA of Mount Vernon for a $3.5 million renovation effort, bringing new life to the 54-year-old community resource and addressing many of the top desires of its members.
Anticipation of continually increasing tourism brought about discussion of the importance of unified, easily recognizable signage to guide visitors to Mount Vernon and Knox County landmarks. New ‘Welcome to Mount Vernon’ and other attractive wayfinding signage was developed and implemented in partnership with the Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Mount Vernon and Knox County governmental entities.
Bringing together all ages to explore science, technology and human interaction through play, SPI has been a regular recipient of support from The Ariel Foundation. SPI offers opportunities to playfully explore a rich environment that includes the tools of science in a family-friendly space that fosters community and intergenerational interaction.
The challenges of poor physical health, mental health issues, addiction, and lack of resources are a reality for all communities. The Winter Sanctuary, located in Mount Vernon, provides support and advocacy to those experiencing homelessness. The Ariel Foundation continues to support this important community program as it provides a safe, warm place where guests can stay while working to rebuild their lives by addressing the underlying issues to their homelessness.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is home to a new premier Soccer and Lacrosse Complex that will be utilized by youth, high school, and collegiate athletes. The project is a true community collaboration that embodies the power of partnership and enables Mount Vernon High School teams to use the lighted turf field for practice and competitions. In addition, the complex includes five full-size grass fields that can be reconfigured into multiple U10, U12, and U14 competition spaces. The Community Fields will provide an attractive, high-quality, permanent home for Knox County youth soccer programs, including The YMCA and Mount Vernon Youth Soccer Association (Mount Vernon Sting). The Soccer and Lacrosse Complex is a source of pride for MVNU, the City of Mount Vernon and Knox County. The addition of the CH4 Stadium includes expanded seating, restrooms, locker rooms, and concessions for the stadium and the surrounding community fields.
Living the organizations mission of aiming to energize and strengthen an authentic and unique downtown experience, grant dollars provide an additional boost to Experience Mount Vernon’s Beautification and Care Program by focusing on the day-to-day and month-to-month upkeep of the Central Business District through means of weeding, spraying of weeds, pruning, mulching, litter control, and maintaining the overall health of vegetation. Community members and visitors benefit from aesthetically pleasing interactions in the main artery of Mount Vernon.
This project brings a fresh look and feel to a Northwest Neighborhood area in Mount Vernon. This revitalization project was long overdue and will contribute to a master plan for improvements to the city’s Northwest Neighborhood area.
Shellmar Park, on the corner of Marion and Madison streets, includes a playground, basketball courts, picnic shelter, parking area, grills for community cookouts, and green space with trees making it an enjoyable place to live and raise children. The people who live in the area can go there within walking distance and enjoy their neighborhood and relax.
The park occupies a former two-acre Shellmar Corporation parking lot, which had been vacant since the company left in the 1990’s. The 27-acre property that sits behind it, that used to house the Shellmar manufacturing plant, will be split into nine three-acre lots, which will then be sold for “industrial manufacturing purposes,” bringing jobs and investment back into that part of the city.
Ariel Foundation is happy to partner with the City of Mount Vernon in making the park a key part of the city’s long-term plan to bring economic growth and prosperity back to this part of town.
This new independent senior assisted living development in Mount Vernon Is a 96-unit community located on 60 acres just north of the main Ohio Eastern Star facility. Upon its completion, Pine Hill will fill a void in the community given the current housing shortage. The only not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Knox County, this project consists of a building with 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments, surrounded by 56 condominiums, grouped into three-and-four-unit cottages. Some condominiums will have an attached garage and range in size from 800 square feet to 1,200 square feet. All units will be rentals. The planned neighborhood development will include patios and walking paths with the potential for a pond with ducks and fishing. The main apartment facility will offer restaurant-style dining in the evenings and bistro-style dining during the day.