Munster adds to economic development area

2013-09-10T20:45:00Z Munster adds to economic development areaLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent
September 10, 2013 8:45 pm  • 

MUNSTER | Town officials have taken another step to make the underpass/overpass project at Calumet Avenue and 45th Street a reality.

The Munster Redevelopment Commission recently added the proposed site of Centennial Village south of the Canadian National Railway tracks to the town’s economic development area. The unanimous vote followed a public hearing during which there were no remonstrators, said Clay Johnson, Munster’s assistant town manager.

Munster’s Redevelopment Commission includes all five members of the Town Council and Judith Florczak, vice president of the Munster School Board. The commission controls the use of money collected from the town’s tax increment financing district that includes Calumet Avenue and 45th Street.

That designation is significant because it permits the town to use economic development bond money to assist with this portion of the project, Johnson said. The bonds are backed by TIF funds.

“This allows us to be able to use bond money and TIF money for this project not to exceed $16 million,” he said.

Developer Matthew Kimball has proposed the Centennial Village development as a walkable community that will incorporate elements of nearby Centennial Park, Clayhole Lake and the Pennsy Greenway bike path. The mixed-use development would include residential and commercial areas.

The move to include the property in the economic development area is a win-win for the town, said Joseph Simonetto, chairman of the Munster Redevelopment Commission and president of the Town Council.

“The developer (Kimball) came in with a proposal to build a new Munster Steel facility in Hammond and move the current Munster Steel to that new site,” Simonetto said. “It will take nine months to build the new Munster Steel and another four months to move the operation.”

That timetable means it will be 13 months before the Munster Steel site can be cleared for the initial overpass/underpass project, Simonetto said.

Initial construction would begin on 45th Street, where crews will build 800 feet of 45th Street east of the current intersection of 45th and Calumet.

Plans call for East 45th Street to turn south and run through the Munster Steel site and come out at the current stoplight at West 45th Street and Calumet Avenue. Bidding is expected to begin on this phase in September 2015. Construction of this portion will take about two years.

The construction of Centennial Village will occur in two phases, according to documents submitted by Kimball.

The first phase will include 129,400 square feet of retail space with 685 parking places.

The second phase will feature an additional 104,000 square feet of retail space and 172 upscale residential units including 150 condominiums and 22 townhomes.

In this final phase, 418 retail parking spaces will be completed along with 344 residential parking places.

Simonetto said the commercial portion of Centennial Village will generate additional TIF funds because the development is in that district.

“We’re excited about this, especially to get the first leg of 45th Street started,” he said.

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