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