Agreement near on Hammond retail development plan

2012-10-30T18:45:00Z 2012-10-30T18:53:10Z Agreement near on Hammond retail development planSteve Zabroski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 30, 2012 6:45 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Investors are poised to begin a large retail and entertainment development in Robertsdale on the far north side of Hammond, city officials revealed Tuesday.

A letter of intent signed by newly formed Marina District Development LLC proposes new uses for mostly vacant property along 2.5 miles of Indianapolis Boulevard from the Five Points intersection at Calumet Avenue and 114th Street to the Illinois state line.

The success of the nearby Super Walmart, which opened last year, convinced developers that the area could draw customers from beyond the East Side of Chicago and Northwest Indiana, said Thomas Dabertin, first vice president of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce.

Plans call for the demolition of a pair of shuttered gas stations and small liquor and cigarette shops next year. Construction of nationally recognized retail stores, restaurants and a hotel is expected to be completed in 2015.

The developers have provided the city with the names of national firms interested in locating in the area, but the list is currently confidential, Dabertin said. More than 50,000 vehicles pass through the area each day because of its proximity to the Chicago Skyway and Horseshoe Casino.

Formed in September, Marina District Development is associated with other companies related to the Collins family, of Hobart, including Luke Oil Co. and Gateway Triangle Corp. The companies own much of the property, including the former Vogel's Restaurant site, slated for improvement.

Investors have pledged $30 million toward the project, Dabertin said, and are looking to the city for some $3.5 million through the creation of a new tax increment financing district and assistance with new street construction and traffic flow designs.

"This area has been ripe for development for decades," Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. "(What was) once a fallow industrial area will be transformed into a retail shopping hub."

A formal development agreement with the city is currently in the hands of the Hammond Redevelopment Commission, which is expected to consider its terms, including the proposed new TIF district, in November.

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