RDA eyes grants for Hammond, E.C. projects

2013-07-23T19:50:00Z 2013-07-23T23:33:11Z RDA eyes grants for Hammond, E.C. projectsLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 23, 2013 7:50 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority board of directors on Tuesday approved a grant for Hammond and accepted a grant application from East Chicago.

The board approved a $200,000 matching grant for Hammond for demolition and cleanup in the 2500 block of New York Avenue near Calumet College of St. Joseph. The city will provide $800,000 toward the project.

The $1 million project will demolish the now-vacant Amoco Oil Co. research and development laboratory. According to the city’s application, the project will create about $18 million in housing and dorm development opportunities.

“Both private developers and Calumet College of St. Joseph have expressed interest in building dormitories and high-end housing to supplement the housing stock in this area, if vacant buildings are removed,” RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna said.

“With this award, we have an opportunity to stay within our role as a catalyst but also support secondary education and the economic benefits commensurate with a strong and diverse regional college and university system,” he said.

The RDA board also accepted East Chicago’s funding application for a $39 million project to create a public-private partnership to spur economic development in the North Harbor area.

The application was assigned to the shoreline group, an RDA committee chaired by Bill Joiner, the Gary appointee to the RDA. The group has responsibility for analyzing projects that enhance the area’s Lake Michigan shoreline and other lakefronts, including Wolf Lake.

In related business, the RDA board heard a report about the progress being made on shoreline projects from COO Sherri Ziller.

Marquette Park in Gary will be substantially complete by Sept. 1, she said.

Other shoreline projects in various stages of completion include Hammond’s Wolf Lake at 75 percent complete; Whiting, 59 percent; Porter, 51 percent; and East Chicago’s North Harbor area, 29 percent complete.

In addition, the RDA board of directors approved a request for deal-closing funds from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. The IEDC is currently in negotiations with a company considering Northwest Indiana in its plans.

Because of the sensitive nature of those talks, only the name of the project, Project Goldberg, was mentioned at the meeting. No RDA funds will be used unless a deal is finalized, said Dave Wellman, RDA spokesman.

“The RDA has used the deal-closing funds only three other times — for the Canadian National Kirk Yard in Hammond, Land O’Frost in Munster and Modern Forge in Merrillville,” Wellman said.

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