The first of its
kind opened in Kyoto, Japan in 2007 and ten years later an “escape room” is
making its way to Chesterton.
Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday approved 5-0 a petition for a use
variance to operate a physical adventure game room on the second floor of
The Factory building at 1050 Broadway.
petition on behalf of the building owner William Bennett, Robert Ring said
he will operate the business as an LLC with his son and daughter and hopes
to have the escape room attraction ready for players at the beginning of
To escape the room,
teams will use hints and clues to find their way out. Digital platforms
create fictional scenarios and locations.
Escape rooms have
been growing in popularity around the world and more have been opening in
the United States. Ring, in his opening statements before a public hearing
for the use variance, said he hopes his enterprise will attract more people
talked to is excited about it. We talked to the (Duneland Chamber of
Commerce) who supports us and we are looking forward to being part of the
community,” said Ring.
For the layout
plans, Ring said there will one room for a single-room game and then two
rooms for a double-room game. The games will be monitored by employees and
key fobs will be used to let users out if they need to exit the games, he
Teams will have a
minimum of two people and a maximum of eight. Adult guardians are required
for players under age 13. Tentative business hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Monday
through Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays
and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays.
Ring said the games
will last about an hour each. Players would be essentially “booking” times
to play the games, he said. Cost would range from $20 to $30 per person
which is comparable to other escape rooms in Northwest Indiana, he said.
No one from the
public came to speak on the petition, but BZA President Joe Ackerman read
into the minutes a letter received from Kevin Murray, owner of Val’s Pizza
and Grinders, in support of the business.
“This is a business
that has a strong potential to draw people, many who have never been to
Chesterton, deeper into the community,” Murray’s letter said. “This will be
an asset to the businesses of the western end of the business corridor where
there is very little traffic.”
Murray said escape
rooms he has seen are enjoyable and have “little in the way that could be
seen as off-putting.”
Town Engineer Mark
O’Dell requested that Ring submit a revised building map for the permit
process and add a condition to the variance that no hazardous materials be
used as props, which Ring agreed to.
BZA member Jim
Kowalski said he was concerned whether the variance should go to Bennett as
the building owner or to the business, adding that there have been times
where variances have gone with the property that have “left too many open
Kowalski summed up
his concern as giving the board some control, in case the business is ever
BZA member Richard
Riley said that he thinks the use variance shouldn’t be restricted to a
person and that the variance should remain as long as the use doesn’t
In the end, the
board made a condition that if the use for the variance, in this case an
escape room, is ever discontinued for at least 30 days, the variance shall
Board members spoke
in favor of the business coming here.
“I think it’s a
great idea. They’re very popular,” said member Kim Goldak.
Ring said he hopes
to have “focus groups” come test the games in the next week or so and have
employees practice resetting the rooms for the next round of players. He
says the target date to open is Aug. 1.
Pool wins variance
The BZA also
awarded a variance, 5-0, on a request for extra lot coverage from Pierre and
Kristine Lauzon to allow an inground pool at 2541 Westwood Ln. S. in
Abercrombie Woods. The variance would allow an increase in lot coverage to
36.8 percent, above the 30 percent maximum.
Lauzon’s, attorney Greg Babcock said the property owner’s association has
given permission for the pool to be built contingent on the variance. It
will be enclosed by a five-foot tall fence and lights will be diffused by
A neighbor to the
north has agreed to allow the Lauzons to connect into his French drain
system so there will be no negative effects regarding runoff, Babcock said.
A letter from
neighbors Ryan and Molly Egan was read into the minutes giving their support
as their children will be able to share the pool.
None of the BZA
members said they had any problems with the petition.
preliminary hearing for a variance by resident Michael Larson was continued
to July as no petition was submitted to build a porch on to his residence.