INDIANAPOLIS | Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura plans to aggressively move ahead on new lakefront development projects now that the city has six additional alcohol sales permits.
"We've been actually holding back conversations with people because we knew that we had these in the works," Stahura said. "This will let us take the next step forward in bringing more people to the table."
On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence signed into law Senate Enrolled Act 173, allowing the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to auction six new alcohol sales permits to Whiting restaurants located within three blocks of Lake Michigan.
The permits will be available starting July 1 and each requires a minimum bid of $10,000. The permits allow either beer sales only, beer and wine sales or beer, wine and liquor sales.
City alcohol sales permits are typically limited based on population. Stahura said Whiting needed additional permits to attract restaurants serving BP employees and to help create a destination lakefront district that will draw visitors from across the region.
The Senate version of the legislation would have allowed unlimited alcohol sales permits for any restaurant adjacent to Lake Michigan, from the Illinois state line to the Michigan border. It was changed in the House to allow just six permits in Whiting.
Stahura said that while he preferred the unlimited licensing approved by the Senate, he plans to use the six new permits to prove to state lawmakers that Whiting can handle much more.
"I think the burden is on us now to get these developments moving forward so we can show that we can use more licenses," he said.
The new law was sponsored by state Sens. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso; Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago; Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake; and Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes; as well as state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.