Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor TIF board hears concept for Westport PUD

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The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission (RDC) heard a concept presentation for the Westport planned unit development (PUD) at its meeting last week.

The Westport site--the four-acre site of Food Truck Square and the attached 28 acres directly across Ind. 149 from the Town Hall--will be home to a bustling mixed-use development that ties into the Burns Harbor section of the Marquette Greenway Trail if all goes as planned, according to A.J. Monroe, Vice-president of planning development for Holladay Properties.

Holladay is the master developer tasked with developing a new Town Center on the Westport site. Monroe said Holladay has come up with a concept design that fulfils the following four criteria, as they were outlined in the RDCís vision for a new Town Center: creates a significant number of full-time jobs; creates a year-round, day and night, level of activity; employs a mixed land use strategy; and engages the community in a way consistent with the Burns Harbor master plan.

Monroe said Holladayís concept is an implementable and flexible plan to incorporate private and public investment that allows opportunities for development on adjacent properties and organic growth. The idea is to build upon Burn Harborís proximity to Indiana Dunes National Park and tie the new development into the Townís future section of the Marquette Greenway Trail, according to Monroe.

After gathering input at a public workshop in early October and visiting and studying the site, Holladay is proposing a mix of single- and multi-family residential, commercial, and municipal spaces. ďItís been validated by the market. itís an implementable plan. This is a plan that we can do, that all the studies showed us is possible, creatable, and affordable. Itís not a pie in the sky,Ē Monroe said.

The concept plan has the north and east fringes of the development reserved for single-family homes, either attached townhomes or detached villas. The interior of the development is planned to be denser, with apartments and small retail spaces that would cater to businesses like coffee shops and insurance agencies, or doctor and law offices. The southwest corner, nearest the intersection with Haglund Road and Ind. 149, will have the new Town Hall and community center.

A stormwater detention area is planned for the northeast corner, and Holladay plans to maintain a heavy tree line to the south of the site and have a large greenspace that fronts Haglund Road. The primary entrance to the development will be off Haglund near the intersection with Ind. 149. The four-acre site, where Food Truck Square is held, will remain empty until a larger business, such as a franchised restaurant, takes interest.

The concept shows a separate Town Hall and community center, but the two can be combined if thatís the Boardís wish, Monroe said. RDC President Eric Hull noted this stage of planning is about laying down the infrastructure, and the details can still be fine-tuned. ďWeíre not committing to anything. Thereís nothing here that cannot be changed later,Ē Hull said.

RDC member Nick Loving asked how long Holladay expects construction would take and how long it might be until they sell the property to someone else. Monroe said construction could go into 2022, as the plan is to coordinate investments in the development with investments in the Marquette Trail. Holladay intends to keep ownership of the property.

RDC Attorney Clay Patton pointed out that the municipal area in the southwest corner will need more parking. That area had about 20 planned spaces, and Patton noted there were easily 20 people watching the presentation.

The Board voted to release Abonmarche Consulting and Smith Group to move forward with filing an application for a concept plan to be submitted by Jan. 17 and on the agenda for the Feb. 3 Plan Commission meeting. The tasks are in line with already approved contracts with those companies and donít represent additional costs.

Marquette Greenway

Karnerblue Consultant Tina Rongers reported the Townís engineers are continuing to coordinate with the National Park, Norfolk Southern and INDOT in relation to the Marquette Greenway Trail grants for any issues that arise. Rongers said everything is on schedule.

Duneland Schools Agreement

The Board opted to table a planned discussion of its new agreement with the Duneland School Corporation since time was running low after the Holladay Properties presentation and Board members wanted more time to review and mull the proposed agreement.

Last month the Board discussed a proposal from DSC that asked the RDC to contribute 15 percent of its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds per year. Previously, the RDC made two annual contributions to DSC and calculated the amounts based on how much taxpayer money the School did not receive as a result of the TIF district in Burns Harbor, which amounted to approximately $100,000 each year.

The agreement is changing now because Burns Harbor Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan canít calculate the contributions the same way anymore due to a state-mandated shift in how School funds are managed. If the RDC contributed 15 percent of its TIF revenue, it would be on the hook for well over $100,000 each year.

Board member Ron Stone, the Boardís non-voting representative from the Duneland School Board, said he wanted to clarify that asking for more money isnít the Schoolís intent and that the RDCís contribution doesnít have to change. Stone said he thinks the proposed agreement ended up with new language because DSC brought in an outside attorney to write it.


Posted 11/21/2019




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