Valpo redevelopment group forced to cut projects

2013-01-20T19:30:00Z 2013-01-21T11:30:07Z Valpo redevelopment group forced to cut projectsPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com
January 20, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | The city's Redevelopment Commission put a hold on funding for any new pathways or facade grants, will spend only about $15,000 to assist expansion of Central Park Plaza and won't fund planned streetscape work on North Calumet Avenue.

The 2013 projects budget approved Thursday reflects the loss of $1.4 million in revenue from the city's tax increment financing districts because of settlements of property assessment appeals. The commission must refund the taxes and interest for appeals dating back as far as 2008.

The biggest refund is going to Kohls, totaling $382,346 for 2008 through 2011. The second biggest settlement of $169,336 will go to Porter's Vale Partners LLC. Another large check will go to Aldi Inc. for $84,146, and Target will receive $82,041 for 2009-11. The Urschel family's Vale Park Development LLC will receive $75,240, and JC Penney has $56,615 coming.

The commission's Executive Director Stuart Summers said another $1 million is set aside in the budget for tax appeals still pending. He said the commission might not know until December how much of that amount will be need to be refunded.

Even with the refunds, the commission's total budget for 2013 is about $9.2 million, of which $3.4 million is planned to be spent on projects the group has committed to, such as the $385,500 in matching funds for the five-points roundabout, $734,750 for the public improvements for the University Promenade development in the Eastgate corridor and $854,820 for improvements for the medical office and technology district at Ind. 49 and Burlington Beach Road.

The biggest budget item is $3 million to develop a shovel-ready site for new businesses or for existing businesses wanting to expand. Summers said the experience with North Coast Distributing and Urschel Laboratories showed the need for property that is zoned properly, has utilities and is environmentally clean.

"All the sites we submitted to Urschel had shortcomings," he said. "We are getting more and more interest from prospects, and we don't have a lot of product on the shelf to offer them. We are looking to develop partnerships with the private sector to acquire and make ready land adjacent to the city that businesses could look at for expansion."

Summers said the city had hoped to have a site by now, but negotiations fell through and the city now is looking at three other possible sites. He said 30 Indiana counties have the advantage of being able to annex noncontiguous land, which is not allowed in Porter County.

As the city moves ahead with plans to build a pavilion, possibly with an ice rink, in Central Park Plaza, Summers said the commission will have money to do some engineering and drawings of the project that can be used to encourage private contributions. The goal is to build the pavilion in 2014.

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