MERRILLVILLE | The town is exploring an option that could help bring new life to vacant buildings on Broadway.
Town Manager Bruce Spires said officials want to focus on an area from 68th Place to the town's north boundary on Broadway, which has several vacant buildings.
Spires said he met with Town Attorney John Bushemi to discuss possible incentives Merrillville could offer to attract businesses to that area.
Bushemi suggested vacant building tax abatement could be an option.
Spires said it's a two-year abatement in which a business would pay no property taxes in the first year and 50 percent in the second year if it locates in a vacant structure.
Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey said it can take two years for a business to get established, and he thinks the abatement could be helpful for that area of Merrillville.
"That north end is important to the town," Guernsey said.
Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said there have been businesses expressing some interest in locating in north Merrillville, and he thinks the vacant building tax abatement could entice them to make a concrete decision to open locations there.
Councilman Shawn Pettit said Merrillville already has designated the north portion of Broadway as an economic revitalization area, which would simplify the tax abatement process.
Spires said all vacant building tax abatement requests would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Pettit has no problems with the town offering tax abatement for the vacant buildings, but he wants to avoid potential issues of businesses moving to a different location after the tax breaks are finished.
Hardaway agreed and said he would want businesses seeking vacant building tax abatement to show they have more than a two-year commitment to locate in that area.