Chesterton Tribune



Effort to sell Porter brickyard property yields no response

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The Porter Redevelopment Commission was prepared Tuesday to open bids received for the purchase of the 31.3-acre Brickyard property on Beam St. but there were no bids to open.

A notice in the Chesterton Tribune was placed on June 12 to solicit proposals from developers with a minimum bid of $397,500 as-is, the average of two appraisals that were completed earlier this spring after the RDC decided to try selling the property.

Matt Reardon of the consulting firm MCR Partners, Ltd., announced to the board that no bids were received but the RDC after a 30-day period can negotiate with developers directly on what they would be interested in doing with the property, according to Indiana Code 36-7-14-22.

“After an exhaustive search, if nobody says they want to do anything, then you are the proud owner of the Brickyard and you can decide what you want to do with it. If you want to keep it, make it a park or leave it like it is. All those things could happen if the development community is non-responsive,” said Reardon, who recommended the RDC take that approach.

RDC President Elka Nelson asked when would be a good time to have a public hearing if the board was to move ahead with talking to developers.

As RDC attorney Laura Frost mentioned, a public hearing would need to the held for residents to air their opinions on whether the property should be sold. The hearing, Frost said, would have no bearing on determining what the final proposal is.

RDC members agreed, by consensus, with Jeannine Virtue’s suggestion to hold the public hearing next month so the process can move forward.

When the Town purchased the property in 2009 from the People’s Bank of Lake County Trust, it was envisioned that there would be a mix of residential properties with single-family homes, townhomes and senior housing.

Nelson, who said she made it known when she was running for Town Council in 2011 that she was unhappy with the Brickyard property, said Reardon and Director of Development Michael Barry can begin talks with potential developers.

Barry told the Tribune after the meeting it is not uncommon to see no bids come in on an as-is purchase. Developers are often interested in the Town doing some improvements before they would acquire the property, he said.

Spot TIF-ing

In talking about the sale of the Brickyard and the presence of other undeveloped areas, Nelson said she believes there could be opportunities to “move some TIF stuff around” or “spot TIF-ing” for areas to receive TIF revenue for development, giving as an example vacant parcels at the intersection of Ind. 49 and U.S. 20.

“Maybe there is some development opportunity there,” said Nelson. She said there would be a procedure to set up these TIF areas that would have to be approved by the RDC, the Plan Commission and the Town Council.

“Where we did our TIF originally is so old right now and things change over time. We may have a different dynamic where we focus on a different area than we used to focus on,” she said.

Nelson asked her fellow RDC members to give Barry input if they know of areas within the town limits that could use redevelopment and he and Reardon can determine if the property is feasible to receive TIF benefits.

DK Trail

Also Tuesday, Barry said the last section of the Town’s portion of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail that goes through the National Lakeshore had some wetland areas that required mitigation. The Town is required to maintain those for five years and send reports to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies, he said.

A consultant could do the work and the Town could ask the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to fund it since it has funded work regarding the Trail, Barry said.

The RDC agreed to contract with the consultant contingent that there will be clauses for liability and insurance to protect the Town as well as a termination clause in the agreement.

Barry said after the agreement for maintenance is done in five years, the National Lakeshore would take over the responsibilities.



Posted 6/28/2017




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