VALPARAISO | After a couple of false starts, the former Porter County Jail in downtown Valparaiso appears ready to become a restaurant and home decor center by the end of the year.
The city's Redevelopment Commission agreed Wednesday to provide building owner George Devollos a $200,000 loan to help pay for the improvements planned in the public spaces. These would include curbs and sidewalks, decorative lighting, handrails and other features to enhance the exterior of the building.
Bret Dodd, senior project manager for DLZ, said Devollos plans to put a 5,000-square-foot Mexican restaurant in the southern wing of the first floor and use the remaining first-floor space and the upper three floors for the new home decor center. The restaurant would seat about 200 and also have outdoor seating at the rear of the building.
The total cost of building renovations is expected to be more than $2 million with about $260,000 to $270,000 spent on the public spaces, Dodd said. He said Devollos already bought the materials needed for the renovation and has ordered the items for the home store with the expectation of beginning construction in late July or August and completing it in about three months.
Devollos is the owner of Royal and Langnickel Brush, and he bought the building from the county several years ago. Previous plans to turn it into a medical office center and a Comfort Inn had to be dropped because of the recession.
The loan would be interest free and would be paid back at $40,000 a year for five years. The improvements to the property are expected to generate that much in new annual property taxes to pay for the loan. If the property taxes don't increase by that much, Devollos would be responsible for paying the difference.
The proposal was not part of the commission's budget. To fund it, the commission agreed to transfer $200,000 it saved from the Central Calumet Avenue project. The loan repayment would begin with the 2013 property taxes paid in 2014.
The loan was approved 3-0, with Jan Dick abstaining because he owns property across the street from the jail building. Commission Member Jon Diston was absent.