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Developers planning Michigan City’s First Opportunity Zone investment

Developers plan to use the new Opportunity Zone program to restore another historic building by Zorn Brew Works in Michigan City.

Developers UpperCross Development Group and Beucler Properties are using the federal government’s new Opportunity Zone program to invest in reviving a historic 149-year-old building in Michigan City.

The developers plan to rehabilitate and repurpose the former brewery bottling building at 113 York St. in the historic Zorn Brew Works complex in the city's first Opportunity Zone project. The 12,000-square-foot facility was built in 1870 in Michigan City’s historic Elston Grove District and has been vacant for many years.

“With the progress of the South Shore Line double tracking and the National Park designation for the Indiana Dunes, the low cost of living and doing business, it’s only a matter of time that Michigan City is once again recognized for these outstanding qualities as a very viable choice in which to live, work and play,” UpperCross Development Principal Robert Harte said.

UpperCross Development Group and Beucler Properties plan to add three residential units on the second floor and commercial space on the first floor after renovating both the interior and exterior.

“The significance of the 113 York closing is that by taking advantage of the newly created Opportunity Zone federal tax incentive, it allowed the project to be presented to a larger audience of prospective investors, most of whom were looking at a Michigan City investment for the first time.” Beucler Properties Principal Mike Beucler said. “This is the exact type of project that the federal government hoped the Opportunity Zone program would spur, and with the other independent initiatives including the double tracking and National Park status, Michigan City’s story stands out from the pack.”

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The former Zorn bottling building — which the new craft brewing incarnation of Zorn Brew Works did not use when getting the long-defunct brewery back up and running in 2016 — is the type of historical building Indiana Landmarks has sought to preserve.

“We are excited to see the proposed rehabilitation for the vacant building. Recent studies have shown historic districts act as stabilizers, increasing property values and home sales,” said Deb Parcel of Indiana Landmarks. “They also have a positive environmental impact. Indiana Landmarks mission is to help to restore and repurpose historic buildings, reconnecting people to heritage and revitalizing communities. We look forward to working with the Michigan City Historic Review Board and the new owners of 113 York building as they bring new life to an abandoned building and foster positive change to the community.”

The project could help spark more investment in Michigan City, said Mike Connor of @properties.

“Having developers like Beucler and Harte, who have projects nationwide, investing in Michigan City brings tremendous value to the area,” he said. “Beucler and Harte have a long, successful history in construction and development, and now they are joining forces to bring those skills to Michigan City. We are excited to be working with them and look forward to making additional announcements regarding other local Michigan City projects they will be bringing forward soon.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.