By PAULENE POPARAD
A mall anchored by a big-box superstore like Walmart would cause big problems
for its neighbors, they told the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission, even
though public comment at the time was out of order.
“I just moved here. If I’d known about this, I wouldn’t have bought where I
did,” said Pat Seguin of County Road 900N east of State Road 49, formerly of
Des Plaines, Ill.
“This is city sprawl is all this is,” said Dave Naillieux of Calumet Avenue
south of 900N, one of about 20 neighbors clearly upset and present to voice
The focus of their discontent was 50-acre Coffee Creek Crossing, a
commercial/retail mall proposed for the southeast corner of State Road 49 and
the Indiana Toll Road and bounded by North Calumet Avenue, which would be
realigned. The mall plans passed concept review only Thursday.
About 300,000 square feet of retail space and a 43,000 square-foot hotel are
planned. The restaurants and potential retail uses could include a Walmart.
A Walmart sign is indicated on the development plan submitted and one 156,399
square-foot building is identified. “You basically have Walmart lined up?”
asked commission vice-president Sig Niepokoj.
Jeff Ban of DVG, Inc., project manager for Coffee Creek Crossing developer
I-80 Partners, LLC, said theirs is one of the sites Walmart is looking at in
Chesterton, however, if it is developed with them, I-80 Partners would
dictate upgraded architectural standards. “It won’t be a block building and
No matter what it looks like, nearby residents living in unincorporated
Porter County later told reporters the development would bring increased
traffic, pose a safety hazard for their children and change the rural
character of the area.
The I-80 Partners land was annexed into Chesterton in August.
For Deb Eversole of 900N, Coffee Creek Crossing’s big-box anchor would be in
her back yard, she said, and expressed concern for area wetlands and possible
contamination of domestic wells. Others said much of 640-acre Coffee Creek
Center in Chesterton on the north side of the Toll Road sits idle and is a
better location for a mall.
“Let’s put it in your neighborhood,” one man told commission members as their
mall discussion was concluding.
Member Frank Sessa said it wasn’t realistic to think land at the intersection
of a major highway and the Toll Road wouldn’t be developed in this way.
Addressing the neighbors who were trying to speak, “Believe me folks, you’ll
get a lot more looks at this,” said member Mike Bannon. Niepokoj said both
preliminary and public hearings would occur.
Ban said despite the site constraints of an underground pipeline, a 25-foot
grade change, the Toll Road and wetlands, developers believe they can deliver
a quality project as well as provide 2 acres for a new Indiana American Water
Co. tower that would enhace water pressure for fighfighting and identify
Chesterton by its name.
Ban noted approximately 30,000 vehicles on the Toll Road and just under
30,000 on State Road 49 pass the mall site each day. The mall would have a
half-mile of Toll Road frontage.
“Realigning old Calumet Avenue is an absolute must,” Ban said. The approach
to where Calumet currently intersects with State Road 49 would be moved to
the east and the sharp curve made more gradual; a stop light would be
installed on Calumet at the mall entrance, and the Calumet/State Road 49
intersection also would be signalized.
These traffic changes are being coordinated with the Indiana Department of
Transportation and the Porter County Highway Department as well as
Chesterton, said Ban, adding that the developers now will commission a formal
He made the distinction that Coffee Creek Crossing is not a lifestyle-center
mall, which usually has more amenities and higher-end tenants, however, there
will be some similarities like scattered buildings and parking lots that make
the Crossing more of a retail/commercial campus that a traditional strip
Also setting it apart will be architectural commitments, including that most
of the buildings will have four finished sides where visible by public view,
said Ban. “In our opinion it’s very good, very quality architecture (and)
architecturally themed lighting.” Regarding the wetlands, he noted, an
environmentally passive park-like area is planned on the site’s east side
that will include the stormwater management area.
Ban said by way of comparison, the new Jewel and the commercial areas around
it on the north side of Indian Boundary Road in Chesterton is about 70
percent of the size of Coffee Creek Crossing as proposed.
Commission member Jeff Trout asked what uses were planned for four mall
outlots. Ban said restaurants and banks typically but the developer is open
to suggestions what tenants are desired. “There is interest in this community
in the national retail industry.”
Member George Stone asked why two lots would have five-story buildings on
them. Project attorney Cliff Fleming said one would be the hotel and the
other potentially an office building; the developer wants that flexibility
should an office use wish to locate there.
The commission hailed the realignment of Calumet Avenue. Bannon suggested
there should be more landscaping in the big-box parking lot and around the
water tower. Ban said the latter is IAWC’s decision, but there will be
substantial green space paralleling Calumet Avenue between it and the big-box
Member Jeff Trout said the mall’s initial concept plan is satisfactory. “I’m
convinced you folks are looking at this a little differently than others.”
According to Sessa, Ban’s was “the best presentation in terms of a commercial
development we’ve had in this community.”
No definite date was set for Coffee Creek Crossing’s preliminary hearing.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Ban. The project is a planned unit
development or PUD that will require both Plan Commission and Town Council
Plan Commission members Steve Yagelski and Fred Owens were absent.