MICHIGAN CITY | Plans are being finalized to revive the half-empty Dunes Plaza with a Kohl's and other chain stores.
The Michigan City Redevelopment Commission on Thursday gave its blessing to financing a $700,000 demolition of the old Kmart and Cinema buildings on the south and east side of Dunes Plaza on U.S. 20 just west of U.S. 421.
The commission also agreed to invest $300,000 to construct a lift station that would serve the new developments.
Redevelopment Commission President Ken Behrendt said the financial commitments from the city were sought by the developer and Kohl's before they went through with property acquisition and building plans.
Behrendt said having Dunes Plaza at full occupancy will eliminate an eyesore and enhance an already strong local retail base.
"We're solidifying Michigan City as a regional retail center," Behrendt said.
Key Development of Chicago will now take steps to close on the 27-acre Dunes Plaza possibly by the end of the month, Behrendt said.
Four acres will be sold to Kohl's to construct a new store on the old Kmart site beginning as early as next spring, with completion targeted for fall 2013.
The developer has agreed to put up new buildings on each side of Kohl's, Behrendt said.
Agreements are in place for those structures to be filled by nationally recognized chain stores that have not yet been disclosed, he said.
Dunes Plaza is in a tax increment financing district, which allows the city to use increased tax revenue to make improvements within the district.
Behrendt said the new owners plan on keeping the strip mall on the west side of the plaza and making facade and other improvements to that building.
Dunes Plaza was created in the early 1970s.
Among the hopes is that a revived plaza will mean a healthier Marquette Mall, which is across U.S. 20 from the plaza.
"We're hoping it will reinvigorate the mall," Behrendt said.