Chesterton Tribune



Holiday Inn Express project is dead, only empty slab remains

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The Holiday Inn Express at the southwest corner of Indian Boundary Road and Ind. 49 isn’t likely ever to get past the slab stage.

At the Chesterton Town Council’s meeting Monday night, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell reported that the owner of the Holiday Inn Express franchise has canceled its contract with the developer of the project, Cosmos Hospitality Service LLC.

O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that he didn’t know why the franchise owner canceled the contract. “I’m not sure what the issues were,” O’Dell said. He did note, however, that Cosmos’ building permit will expire this spring.

Ground was broken on the hotel and a foundation poured late in 2015, four years after Cosmos first appeared before the Advisory Plan Commission seeking an amendment of the planned unit development ordinance governing the property, located south of the Walgreen’s pharmacy. That amendment was granted, a building permit was issued for an 80-room hotel, and Cosmos duly filed a stormwater pollution prevention plan. But then nothing happened.

The original delay--the four years between the issuance of a building permit and the breaking of ground--Town MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala attributed at the time not to the economy but to the way the franchise owner, Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), does business. For the sake of brand uniformity and recognizability, Gadzala explained in 2015, IHG sets a franchise-wide design standard. That look, however, has a lifetime of only 10 to 15 years, at the end of which IHG sells the existing Holiday Inn Express hotels. Cosmos, she said, was merely waiting for IHG to release the new design standard so as not to fall under the old dispensation.

But O’Dell was at a loss to explain why Cosmos stopped work on the hotel after breaking ground in 2015. Other hotel franchises have since looked at the foundation but it’s unlikely any would be willing to build on it as-is, since every franchise has its own very specific design standards.

“It looks like it’s just going to be an empty slab,” O’Dell said, noting that it’s private property and that the foundation doesn’t violate Town Code.

“That slab is something that somebody ought to pay to remove,” suggested Council President Jim Ton, R-1st. “But not us.”

Fourth Street RR Crossing

In other business, Town Manager Bernie Doyle reported that he will soon be reaching out to Norfolk Southern about the condition of the Fourth Street grade-crossing. It’s getting “pretty bad,” he said, like a wash board, as motorists hit the tracks.

Norfolk Southern has re-conditioned several of the grade-crossings in town in recent years, including the Eighth Street trackage last year, and Doyle said that he’s hopeful the railroad will turn its attention to Fourth Street this year.

Drainage Problem on INDOT Right-of-Way

Doyle also reported that he’s reached out to the Indiana Department of Transportation about the drainage problem at the southwest corner of Ind. 49 and East Porter Ave. Heavy rains tend to leave that piece of property flooded, which at a minimum is unsightly.

Doyle doesn’t know what’s causing runoff to pool there, nor does he know how it would be remedied, but he has asked INDOT to take a look at the problem. “But I don’t know what will come of it,” he said.

Coffee Creek Farmer’s Market

Meanwhile, members voted unanimously to renew the town’s contract with the Coffee Creek Farmers Market, which debuted last year on the east side of Village Point in Coffee Creek Center, adjacent to the Phillips Pond water feature.

That contract provides for a three-week extension of last year’s run, the not-for-profit market’s organizer, Damian Appel told the council. The plan now is for the market to run into the third week of October, late every Wednesday afternoon.

Staff did express a concern, namely, that at some point during the season the Lake Erie Land Company is going to be removing Village Point’s brick-pavers and replacing them with an asphalted road surface.

Appel said in response that he’s aware of the project and has received permission from the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve to re-locate the market--for as long as Village Point is being paved--to the parking lot on the south side of Sidewalk Road, just across the street from the former Serenity Salon & Spa.

Members approved the new contract pending legal review.




Posted 3/15/2017




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