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.
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.
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.
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.