VALPARAISO | The city of Valparaiso may take possession soon of a 10-acre shovel-ready development site. All it would have to do is demolish the former Natural Ovens Bakery dome.
The city's Redevelopment Commission tentatively has $332,500 in its draft budget for 2014 for the demolition on the industrial site on Mariposa Drive in the Eastport Centre industrial park. A final budget won't be approved until January.
The bakery occupied the building for barely two years after its opening in April 2003.
Since being closed by the Manitowoc, Wis.-based bakery, in 2005, it was used by a local church and then bought by Livemercial owner Johnny Mathis as a backup offsite storage center for computer data. Mathis ran into financial problems, and the property is back on the block after the company he set up to buy the dome, Lucky Dog LLC, turned out not to be so lucky.
A total of $1.38 million in back taxes and penalties is owed, if it is paid off by the end of the day Oct. 28, Porter County Treasurer Michael Bucko said. If not redeemed, it will be one of several hundred properties put up for tax sale Oct. 29, and the price jumps to $1.46 million as the second half of the 2013 taxes are added.
If no offer is made to cover the total amount owed, it will be turned over to the Porter County Board of Commissioners, and Valparaiso already has let it be known it would be interested in having it deeded to the city. City Attorney Patrick Lyp said turning tax delinquent properties over to the local taxing body is common in Lake County but rare in Porter County.
The building has been mostly vacant for about eight years. It was once rated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as earthquake proof and capable of withstanding the strongest tornadoes.
Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stuart Summers said it is in bad shape now because of neglect with "significant water leakage" that makes it unsuitable for rehabilitation and reuse.
"We hope to sell it and get the property back on the tax rolls," Summers said.