Chesterton Tribune



LEL looking to make Coffee Creek Center land more sellable

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When Coffee Creek Center was originally platted, not quite a quarter of a century ago, the Lake Erie Land Company (LEL) envisioned the development as the future site of corporate headquarters, high-tech light manufacturing, and other large-scale users of land.

Some of that has since come to fruition, of course: the Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute, Urschel Laboratories Inc., the Symphony, and the Residences of Coffee Creek all call Coffee Creek Center home.

But as Jeff Trout noted at the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission’s meeting Thursday evening, the market for land has changed significantly over the years. “Somebody buying up 10 acres and developing it just isn’t happening in today’s market,” he said. Instead, smaller lots are trending now: one- and three-quarter- and half-acre pieces which have been fully infrastructured and are shovel-ready.

Which is why LEL is now looking to replat some of its larger pieces into smaller ones and then install infrastructure on the chunks. First up: a parcel of approximately four acres located in the 1st Addition, Phase B, west of Village Point and immediately south of the new Chesterton Family Dental facility.

Specifically, LEL wants to cut those four acres into six separate lots, ranging in size from 0.50 acres to 0.72 acres.

“We’ve had potential clients come in and look at larger acreages,” LEL rep Keith Sharpe explained to the commission. “And when we start talking about subdivision, their eyes glaze over. Because there’s always a shovel-ready site somewhere down the road.”

Makes sense to Trout. “There’s a better chance you’re going to get a client putting up a building and doing something with it on a smaller lot,” he said. “I think the idea of chopping it up and making them more sellable is a good thing,”

Thursday’s preliminary hearing on the re-platt, however, had to be continued to planners’ next meeting, July 16, after Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson drew their attention to a couple of technical issues in need of hashing out.

First, there’s the question of a land donation which LEL is required to make--under the terms of the original 1996 planned unit development ordinance--to the Chesterton Parks and Recreation Department. Sharpe noted that the PUD  stipulates a donation of 17 acres but that LEL is planning to increase that to 28, because the land in question--located generally on the west side of Dickinson Road, south of East Memory Lane--includes a natural-gas pipeline easement and some wetlands fringing Coffee Creek.

Parkinson had two chief points to make: LEL needs to define the exact location of that land; and 17 acres of it must be available for active, not passive, park land, that is, not a pipeline easement and not a wetland. In any case, the donation must be sorted out before the commission may hold a public hearing on the replat.

Also, Parkinson said, the four acres in question include a sliver of Lot 37 to the north, and that sliver must be vacated before the four acres can be replatted. “It would be premature to do the replatting ahead of the vacacting. They should go hand in hand.” In fact, Parkinson has in mind two separate preliminary hearings, and two separate public ones: the first on the vacation, the second on the replatting.

Planners will return to the matter next month.


Posted 6/22/2020




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