ST. JOHN | A major commercial and residential economic development effort could be coming to the town’s north end, but the deal hinges on a stoplight.
Earlier this month, area developer Dennis Meyer gave a presentation to the St. John Town Council about a major project he would like to undertake south of the current Lake Central Plaza along U.S. 41 in the town’s northern tax increment financing district.
He owns some of the property alongside Lake Central Plaza, but adjacent land is for sale, Meyer said.
The new development would include land along U.S. 41 as well as tree-lined acreage adjacent to On Golden Pond, an upscale condo complex Meyer developed about 14 years ago.
The Town Council was enthusiastic about the possibility of development. However, Meyer said, a must-have is a stoplight out onto U.S. 41, and that’s something only the Indiana Department of Transportation can approve, said Town Manager Steve Kil.
“It’s almost impossible to build anything without a traffic light. There are a number of accidents there every month. I will pursue buying the property if we can get a light,” Meyer said.
“It’s not a good time to build a strip mall anywhere in the U.S., but if we got a traffic light, this would be a great development. It would also help all the people living in On Golden Pond,” he said.
“There’s no problem going north from this road, but going south is a major issue.”
Town officials are working with INDOT representatives to acquire that stoplight.
A frontage road also will need to be constructed and utilities moved. That, Kil said, would be doable. There is money in the town’s TIF fund to provide engineering work needed to accomplish it.
The commercial development could be started first, Meyer said, and would begin 300 feet south of Livio’s Restaurant.
Meyer said he envisions a steakhouse and fish restaurant to complement Livio’s. It would include outside dining and “lots of landscaping,” he said.
The land where Meyer said he wants to build condominiums includes a pond as well as many acres of mature trees.
He said his plans to expand the current 51-unit On Golden Pond condo complex include constructing buildings both on the new pond and away from the water. Condos on the new pond would be more expensive, he said.
Units on the pond would feature 1,800-square feet of living space, while the off-pond condos would have 1,500 to 1,600 square feet of space. The complex would be designed primarily for empty nesters.
Many of the trees at the rear of the property would be kept in place to provide a 150- to 160-foot buffer to a large neighboring house, Meyer said.
A park would be constructed in the middle of the new development tentatively called Park Place with $300,000 for landscaping, he said.
To successfully build this residential complex, a quiet zone for the adjoining railroad crossing on 85th Street would be necessary, Meyer said.
That quiet zone would require specific elements, including warning lights and gates, Kil said. Although both elements are currently at that crossing, the matter will have to be researched to find out if they meet railroad requirements for a quiet zone, he said.