VALPARAISO | After a little more than a year, the former North Coast Distributing facilities have had some nibbles, but the city is still waiting for a big fish to take the bait.
The city's Redevelopment Commission paid $4 million for the buildings after the business moved to a new headquarters on Ind. 49 across from the Porter County Sheriff's Department in early 2012. The commercial real estate broker NAI Hiffman was contracted to sell the buildings, for which the asking price was $4.2 million.
In December, the commission agreed to renew the Hiffman contract through June and lower the asking price to $3.995 million to try to show its interest in selling.
"We've had seven indications of interest the broker feels will not go to fruition," the commission's Executive Director Stuart Summers said. "Six others looked at the facility and expressed interest of some kind. Four of those leads came through the Indiana Economic Development Corp."
Summers said those interested ranged from a food processing business to an auto manufacturing surface finisher. So far, the city has not received any offers for the facilities, although some toured the site. The broker also has a couple of prospects, he said.
If the city fails to sell the facilities, an option that has been discussed is using the site as the new Public Works Department campus. The existing public works facilities are crowded and outdated. Meanwhile, the commission is paying for the utilities and general upkeep on the building.
The building also has had some use. The city's Police Department received permission to use the large warehouse space for training for the police dogs with their handlers. The Parks Department used it for a couple of months last summer for the day camp program on days when it rained because the floors at Thomas Jefferson Middle School were being redone.
"We had requests from softball teams to use it for an indoor practice facility, but we turned them down," Summers said. "If we're trying to sell it, we don't want it turned into an indoor recreation facility."
He said Public Works doesn't have money to take over the facilities yet. How much longer the city waits will depend on how successful the broker is in attracting potential buyers and whether the Public Works Department can obtain funding. Summers said the broker, who will get a 5 percent commission, said the improving economy should help.
"It's not like we've lost any deals," Summers said. "There haven't been any deals in Northwest Indiana for something like this."