Portage moves forward with lakefront property plans

2013-11-30T17:30:00Z 2013-12-02T00:26:09Z Portage moves forward with lakefront property plansJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The city is moving forward with plans to develop a portion of the property it owns just south of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.

Portage's Redevelopment Commission recently approved a contract with SEH of Munster to take the phase 1 design to 100 percent completion. The cost of the contract is $145,000.

The project includes extending the entrance road from the park site south; providing additional parking; extending the trail from the pavilion to the South Shore train station and organizing the intersection on the west side of the Burns Waterway, said A.J. Monroe, director of community development.

The design should be completed by March. Construction costs are estimated at $1.5 million and construction could begin this summer.

Once completed, said Monroe, the project will provide additional parking for people going to the Lakefront and Riverwalk and will provide a walking trail from the train station to the lakefront. Nearly 300 additional parking spaces are planned for the area.

Monroe said this project is part of five total phases of development of property south of the lakefront land, extending south of U.S. 12, west to the train station and east around the public marina. While phased, the work is interdependent.

The city moved forward on phase 1 because the area considered phase 4 is dependent on that action, he said. Phase 4 includes work along the waterway including bank restoration between the bridge and U.S. 12 with public access to the waterway. That is being funded as part of a $4.8 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grant for work in the waterway area.

"The city and corps projects have to move forward concurrently," said Monroe.

For the Army corps to move forward on its project, phase 1 design must be completed to define property lines, Monroe explained. He said the Redevelopment Commission's purchase of the area known as warehouse 57 and included in phase 3 development, was also essential to the corps work.

As for the phase 1 project, said Monroe, construction is estimated to cost $1.5 million. A part of that could be funded through a grant the city is seeking from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

Monroe said the city is in the process of putting together a grant application to the RDA for transit-oriented development, a piece of which is the linking of the lakefront property to the South Shore train station.

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