Terry Larson of Larson-Danielson Construction Co. said corporate site
selectors using code names for confidential clients have looked at an
81-acre parcel on County Road 950N in Chesterton, but the lack of sewer and
water there always chilled their interest.
Now that the town is completing installation of municipal utilities along
the Indiana 49 corridor at CR 950N, interest has sparked again and a group
of investors wants to duplicate the success of Portage’s Ameriplex
industrial park here as Alliance Business Center but with the addition of
Not so fast, said Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission members Thursday.
While the project is worth exploring and a business park is needed, they
said, final approval now would be premature. Stated president George Stone,
“None of this will happen until (a traffic signal at the Indiana 49
intersection) is done. That stop light is critical ultimately.”
The east side of CR 950N at the intersection is a curve that serves as the
northern terminus of North Calumet Avenue.
Larson said Alliance has begun the process to obtain state approval for a
He and Kelly Harris of Harris Architects described conceptual plans for the
business-park site, on which Larson later said the Alliance investors have
an option to purchase from the Pope Family. Although the parcel tentatively
was proposed in 2009 for a mixed commercial/residential development, it
never was approved and Larson said he hopes to return to the commission in
60 days with a firm plan.
Larson said leading companies would be pursued to bring quality improvements
and good wages to the shovel-ready site; he confirmed North Coast
Distributing once considered it but ultimately located its new complex south
of U.S. 30 in Valparaiso.
Harris didn’t rule out drawing a large retailer like Home Depot; he also
said motor freight terminals would not be allowed. “This isn’t smokestacks
or heavy refining.”
According to Larson, Chesterton’s zoning ordinance doesn’t give much
definition to light industrial so mutual agreement on allowable uses would
be required, such as 200,000 square-foot, multi-tenant buildings with shared
loading docks to larger buildings and dock operations with semi-trailers but
at a ratio so the latter wouldn’t become a sea of semis.
Harris said Alliance would have design standards so its buildings would be
attractive like Ameriplex, not pole barns, and the site would be functional,
well lit and well maintained.
“That’s quite a spread from industrial to residential. What kind of
residential are you talking about?” asked Stone.
Harris said some multi-family and potentially residences above
less-intensive commercial space; an initial plan identified single-family
homes on the tract’s south side but Larson felt residential wouldn’t be a
significant part of the development.
Commission member Jeff Trout described a location in another state where
million-dollar houses are on one side of the street and a business park is
across from them. He also said Chesterton needs high-paying jobs so the
commission can agree to parameters that give Alliance flexibility in
attracting tenants yet provide needed protections for the town.
Trout, too, said traffic signals at Indiana 49, a divided highway, need to
be part of Alliance’s business-center plan.
He recalled how a proposed 50-acre retail center, never built at the
southeast quadrant of Indiana 49 and the Indiana Toll Road across from the
Pope Farm, included an intersection redesign with signalization, and he
believes the same justifications for the traffic light are valid today.
Urschel groundbreaking set
With no comment voiced during a public hearing, the commission approved both
preliminary and secondary plat approval for Urschel Laboratories Inc., which
a spokesman said will have groundbreaking July 11 on its new 75-acre
manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in Coffee Creek Center.
Vote was 6-0 with member Fred Owens absent. The original Urschel timetable
for project completion was October, 2015.
Urschel director of real estate Bill Baker said the platting divides the
157-acre parcel Urschel is buying into Phase 1 for the manufacturing
site/offices, and Phase 2 north of an extended Gateway Boulevard for as-yet
unidentified future development.
The commission previously recommended and the Town Council approved amending
the development plan for Coffee Creek Center’s third addition to enable
Urschel’s relocation from Valparaiso to Chesterton. However, Stone said it
was determined a northern portion of the 157 acres lies in a separate
Last night, added to the agenda was a preliminary hearing to amend Coffee
Creek’s second addition as well. The commission waived the 17-day filing
deadline and set a public hearing on the new request for July 18.