LAPORTE | There's renewed optimism about a 150-acre former industrial site here being redeveloped.
Holladay Properties, the creators of Ameriplex in Portage, has been chosen as the developer for NewPorte Landing, also known as the former Allis Chalmers property.
If construction doesn't begin this summer or fall then ground should be broken in 2014, said Bert Cook, executive director of the Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corp.
Cook said Holladay Properties with its capabilities and proven track record was viewed as the best fit over many other developers who answered the city's request for interest in the site.
“Just take a look across Northwest Indiana and they've put their mark on a number of different communities and each one of those developments has been extremely successful,” Cook said.
Envisioned for the site east of Pine Lake Avenue surrounding Clear Lake are retail and office space along with residential and recreational use.
Work on redeveloping the site began in the late 1990s with demolition of the old Allis Chalmers smokestack then later abandoned factory buildings were torn down and environmental remediation began.
Originally, the developer was Reliance Capital of Cincinnati Ohio, which backed away from the project in 2008 because of the economic downturn.
In the meantime, the environmental clean-up continued and the city kept acquiring properties adjacent to the site to make the ground even more ready to build on once the economy recovered.
Cook said retail and commercial interest in LaPorte has increased significantly over the last year, rekindling prospects for the site where Allis Chalmers for decades made tractor parts and employed thousands.
“So much of LaPorte's history has taken place on this site that I see it as only fitting that it will play a prominent role in the continued growth and success of our great city,” LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said.
Holladay Properties will begin work immediately on assessing the development plan for the site.
Which businesses could be popping up is not known, but Bass Pro Shops, Starbucks and Country Inn and Suites are among the tenants at Ameriplex in Portage.
In Mishawaka, Holladay Properties at its Heritage Square Development attracted firms like Martin's Supermarket, Coldwater Creek and Eddie Bauer.
Cook said there are no guarantees but feels much of the new site will be redeveloped over the next one to three years and believes Holladay Properties, unlike the other developer, will see the project through.
“At the end of the day we want to construct a project that residents of LaPorte see as an asset to the community and can identify with,” said Mike Micka, vice president of development for Holladay Properties.