GRIFFITH | The town shot a hole in one Friday when the Redevelopment Commission bought the vacant Griffith Golf Center.
The closing was Friday afternoon for a purchase price of $500,000, said Clerk-Treasurer George Jerome.
The money is coming from a tax increment finance district created by the commission after it included the 50-acre site in a redevelopment area in 2007.
At that time, the town also rezoned the land from open space to central business to help the owner, Bob Farag, market it to prospective buyers.
"Unfortunately, the previous owner and developers were never able to reach agreement" and the site became available to the commission several months ago, Jerome noted.
There are no specific plans for the immediate use of the land, but by owning it the town controls what goes there in the future, Jerome said.
He added that TIF funds could be used to help a future developer install roads and other infrastructure at the site, which sits on the east side of Cline Avenue just south of the Borman Expressway.
The golf course has been closed for about five years after Farag said it was getting harder to operate golf courses both nationally and locally.
Town officials are excited at the future possibilities for the land.
"As the exec for the Griffith Chamber of Commerce, I received multiple calls asking for a hotel or motel in Griffith," said Town Councilwoman Patricia Schaadt, R-4.
Schaadt said she prefers something that will enhance Griffith, but not generate a lot of local traffic.
"I still picture a UPS facility," said Jerome's brother, Tom, who once served on the commission. "They could combine three separate facilities into one central location. Great access to interstates, trains, and Gary-Chicago airport."
George Jerome said past discussions also have included a Menards and light industry. He also noted that weather-related issues limit uses for the site.
The Little Calumet River Basin Commission requires a flowage easement on part of the area and the Griffith Sanitary District wants a detention basin for heavy rain events, Jerome said.
"I know we will consider many options before a decision is forthcoming."
Town Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, praised the commission for previously creating the same TIF area that will pay for the property.
He also said developers can email the council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at (219) 924-7500.
"The town, as well as the Redevelopment and Economic Development Commissions, will work with any potential developer with a suitable proposal to minimize the red tape," Ryfa said.