Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Developers pitch business center for CR 950N; Plan Commission calls for new 49 stoplight

Back To Front Page

By PAULENE POPARAD

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 residential housing.

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 stoplight.

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 section.

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.

 

 

Posted 6/21/2013