Illiana Expressway-tied development eyed

2012-06-26T21:40:00Z Illiana Expressway-tied development eyedBy Melanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 26, 2012 9:40 pm  • 

LOWELL | The developer behind a light industrial park with an anticipated assessed value of $58 million would welcome annexation if the town can afford to extend its boundaries to Interstate 65.

Patrick Lee, president of Lee Cos., a Gary-based developer, told the Lowell Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday he has been in talks with Lake County officials regarding the 125-acre development dubbed Park 65.

"It would be easier for us to work with the town," he said. He said the development is planned with the Illiana Expressway expected to be nearby.

Whether Lowell could fund annexation to the Interstate 65/Ind. 2 interchange and surmount inevitable objections from property owners along the route are questions Redevelopment Commission President Doug Niksch said need to be addressed.

Lee said the development is expected to generate $350,000 in tax revenue in the first year of the first phase. At the fifth year, $1.75 million in tax revenue should be generated and at the 30th year, $3.2 million in taxes would be expected.

Consultant Matt Reardon, when asked, said it all comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. He said the costs to serve the annexed area must be weighed against the expected tax revenue. Annexation also allows the town greater control, particularly for another parcel, 313 acres on the southwest side of the interchange, in search of a developer.

Kelly Disser of NAI Hiffman, an Illinois-based commercial real estate firm, said the property owned by Ron Bergstrom is expected to be developed for commercial retail.

Redevelopment Commission member Phillip Kuiper, who also is the Lowell Town Council president, said of annexing to the east, "It wouldn't be easy."

At the same time, Niksch said the town needs to look at westerly annexation to U.S. 41, which certainly will be affected by the Illiana Expressway, whichever route is finally decided.

The commission just received the draft of the fiscal plan for annexing 80 acres west to Austin Avenue, then south to take advantage of the available rail, Niksch said.

Councilman Craig Earley, also a commissioner, said, "We need to narrow this down. ... There is too much on the table."

The commission agreed to change its meeting schedule to 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month.

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