HAMMOND | Unilever is undertaking an $800,000 project to spruce up its North Hammond plant, an endeavor city officials hope will change the perception of an area they consider prime for retail development.
The Hammond Redevelopment Commission approved the project Tuesday and will give $400,000 to help pay for a new wrought iron fence along Indianapolis Boulevard.
The payment will come out of funds left over in a tax increment financing district created to benefit Unilever in 2002 but the city is closing this year.
Along with a new fence, plans call for building berms and planting trees.
“Personally, I'm excited about it. If you drive down Indianapolis Boulevard right now by the Unilever property, you are seeing a large brick wall and a large barbed wire fence. It's just not very inviting,” said Phil Taillon, city planning a development director.
Building off the momentum of the new Walmart opening near Unilever last year, the city is expecting more retailers to move into the area, Taillon said. He said the beautification project will be nice when developers come to check out North Hammond.
“The area could be one of the top retail areas in the entire city when it's done,” Taillon said.
Work is expected to begin on the fence by mid-September, according to a statement from Brad Tieke, Unilever's plant manager.
Redevelopment Commissioner Jimmie Lambert said she supports the Unilever project.
“It's going to be beautiful there. I drive by there a lot, and it won't look so much like a prison,” Lambert said. “The beautification is something I think it will pay for itself in the long run.”