HAMMOND | The Hammond Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday approved a Walmart to be built on a site near Cabela's.
The plan still must be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Plan Commission. The two boards likely will vote on the Walmart plan in August and construction could begin by year's end, said Phil Taillon, executive director of the city's Department of Planning and Development.
The new Walmart will be 190,000 square feet, bigger than a Walmart on 165th Street that is 140,000 square feet.
The Walmart on 165th Street will close after the larger store is open at the Cabela's development site, though an exact timeline has not yet been established.
City officials said the Walmart at 1828 165th St. is limited in groceries it can sell because of a site restriction. The new store is envisioned as a supercenter and will be able to sell more groceries. There also will be a drive-thru pharmacy, which the current Walmart doesn't have.
Taillon said if the city doesn't approve Walmart moving to the new site, Hammond risks losing the business to another city.
The Walmart will be built on a parcel southwest of Cabela's. Architects made sure the building will not clash with the current surroundings, officials said. The facade will have brick detail and earth tones.
"We want this to be a showpiece," said Mike Pierce, Oakridge Realty real estate broker. "No question, this will be the nicest-looking Walmart in Northwest Indiana."
Hammond officials heralded the removal of the Cabela's site from the flood plain in 2011 as a necessary boost for developing the area. The high elevation of the store was a factor in planning the building.
"I'm glad to see the elevation levels, because I live in that area and it makes it more of a safe zone," said Tony Hauprich, of the Hammond Redevelopment Commission.
Walmart planners also said there will be several evergreen trees planted around the building to act as visual and audio buffers for a nearby bike trail and homes.
The new Walmart will create additional tax revenue and encourage other businesses to come to the Cabela's site, Taillon said. There are about 10 other lots for sale on the Cabela's site.
"I believe with Walmart moving next to Cabela's, those 10 lots will fill up pretty quickly," Hauprich said.