Hammond hopes legal move will spur development at Gateway Promenade

2013-10-07T00:00:00Z 2013-10-08T00:12:08Z Hammond hopes legal move will spur development at Gateway PromenadeChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Visions for Gateway Promenade once called for a multiscreen movie theater, then a Burlington Coat Factory. Those were plans that never came to fruition as the development at Interstate 80/94 and Indianapolis Boulevard stalled and then became locked in foreclosure proceedings.

Now the property is set to head to the Lake County sheriff’s sale in November, county records show. City officials hope the sale will clear the way for new development at the site.

“We want to see some sort of development happen there as soon as possible,” said Phil Taillon, executive director of Hammond's Department of Planning and Development. “We are anxious to see it get out of the legal process it is going through right now and to hopefully see a new owner come in.”

Liens on the properties at 7849 Indianapolis Blvd. and portions of the 7900 block of Indianapolis Boulevard total $21 million. Taillon said he expects the asking price means the properties likely will become bank owned.

The sale encompasses the properties where the Aldi, White Castle, Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles office and the old Builders Square sites are located, but would not impact leases of current businesses, a lawyer representing the lender previously told The Times.

The sale does not include the Alverno Clinical Laboratories property, Taillon said.

The properties up for sale are linked to Northbrook, Ill.-based developer George Markopoulos, who came to the Hammond Redevelopment Commission in 2008 with plans to develop the old Kmart and Builders Square property into the Gateway Promenade.

Taillon said the sales price excludes the city from vying for the property, but city officials plan to work with the new owner on the site’s future.

Taillon said a number of outlots are ready for development and the old Kmart store offers a large retail space.

“We know from history there’s definitely an interest in retailers locating there,” Taillon said. “I think, because this got into the legal process, it just slowed everything down. We’re hoping after the sheriff’s sale in November it will pick back up again, and we’ll see some new retailers move in quickly.”

The properties had been on the tax sale for July but were removed.

Hammond City Council President Michael Opinker, whose 5th District includes the Gateway Promenade, said he had always hoped for a movie theater in the area.

“There hasn’t been any real conversation for that property,” Opinker said. “It’s at a stalemate right now.”

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