HAMMOND | This summer, watch for more than $25 million in new construction off an interstate exit in Hammond.
A popular sit-down restaurant and sports bar that specializes in chicken wings will join a microbrewery and a four-story hotel at the development at the southeast corner of Kennedy Avenue and Interstate 80/94.
All three projects may end up under construction at the same time this year, said Phil Taillon, executive director of Hammond planning and development.
Buffalo Wild Wings wants to build a 7,000-square-foot restaurant on the southeast corner of the site where the River Park Apartments used to be. The restaurant would be located on a 1.5-acre site south of Carlson Drive, and the chain hopes to include an outdoor patio with views overlooking the Little Calumet River.
The fast-growing restaurant chain plans to invest $2.4 million in the new restaurant, which will employ 60 workers. Hammond is offering $800,000 in special tax district money as incentives, including for work on the building facade, parking lot and landscaping.
Buffalo Wild Wings currently has more than 950 locations nationwide, including in Calumet City, Lansing, Homewood, Schererville, Merrillville, Crown Point, Portage, Valapraiso, Michigan City and LaPorte.
But after Cracker Barrel, it would be only the second national sit-down chain in Hammond, the state's fifth largest city, Tallion said.
"In the entire city of Hammond, we only have one mid-level chain as of right now," he said. The rest are fast-food restaurants or family-owned restaurants. But we don't really have a lot of the Applebee's, T.G.I. Friday's, and Chili's. Now residents won't have to go driving to another city to enjoy that type of restaurant. They can stay in Hammond and enjoy it here, and that's what we want."
Buffalo Wild Wings should be able to draw visitors into town too, by pulling highway traffic off the Borman, Tallion said.
"It's a nationally known restaurant that known for having a lot of TVs and showing the game." he said. "Drivers will see the sign, and it will pull people into the development. It will work as an anchor."
Construction should start as soon as May, and is expected to be completed this year.
The restaurant will be much smaller than the 27,000-square-foot Hammond Station and Brewery, a outpost of the popular and acclaimed Flossmoor Station and Brewery in Illinois. The $10.5 million microbrewery and restaurant will be built north of Carlson Drive on the north end of the site.
A developer also plans to build a $12.5 million, 100-room Hampton Inn near Kennedy Avenue. The project was first proposed more than three years ago and then cooled off, but construction is now slated to begin this year. The chain hotel will cater to interstate travelers and is expected to have about 25 employees.
After the build-out, Oxbow Landing will have at least one and possibly two parcels left for development, Tallion said. The city has been in talks with interested businesses.
Earlier discussions with Mars Cheese Castle, a Wisconsin-based purveyor of meats and cheeses, and Air Adventure, which was interested in building a family entertainment facility with a sky diving simulator, have since petered out.