Gary banks on arts, academic complex for future investment

2014-04-30T19:00:00Z 2014-05-01T18:54:06Z Gary banks on arts, academic complex for future investmentMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
April 30, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

GARY | Gary is banking on a multimillion-dollar performing arts and academic building shared between Indiana University Northwest and Ivy Tech as a key marketing tool for future investment.

The state has approved $45 million for a performing arts and academic building shared between IUN and Ivy Tech on the corner of 35th Avenue and Broadway.

J. Forest Hayes, executive director of Gary's Economic Development Corp., said Wednesday the city plans to focus on improving current housing and commercial buildings around that intersection and tout its investment potential.

To that end, regional and federal banking officials on Wednesday took a bus tour of the University Park area surrounding IUN.

Representatives of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and local banks met at the Gary State Bank building before boarding a bus for a tour of the area, also known as Glen Park.

Hayes told the group the two colleges are looking to leverage additional tax breaks and funding sources to secure the project.

A feasibility study also may point to IUN as an ideal location for a level one trauma center and teaching hospital because of its proximity to Interstate 80/94 and Interstate 65 and the university's new four year medical school, he said.

With the two universities and the Gary Career Center on 35th Avenue, the area needs student housing and retail businesses like restaurants and coffee shops along Broadway, Hayes said.

"There are are over 10,000 students throughout these institutions with no opportunity for retail to harness the enormous market energy those students have," Hayes said.

Hayes said the community needs to build up housing options with a mix of student housing and single-family homes.

"Gaps in the housing stock can weaken the community," Hayes said. "The more density created, the more viable the community will be."

University Park's neighborhood west of Broadway has stronger housing options, so the city will focus to remove blighted homes on the east side, Hayes said.

Updated commercial building would allow local businesses flexibility. He suggested a mixed use of first floor retail, and higher floors offering either office or residential space.

Before the tour, developer Vance Kenney, of Gateway Partners LLC, announced the new Centier Bank branch in the former Gary State Bank building. 

Kenney said removing an empty building south of the bank will open enough space for a drive-through window and on-site parking. He plans to find occupants for the rest of the 10-story building within the next five years.

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