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Gary seeking subcontractors for Broadway Lofts that will displace historic Memorial Auditorium

Gary seeking subcontractors for Broadway Lofts that will displace historic Memorial Auditorium

Gary seeking subcontractors for Broadway Lofts that will displace historic Memorial Auditorium

The history Memorial Auditorium will be torn down to make way for the new Broadway Lofts development.

Gary is soliciting bids for subcontractors to help build the Broadway Lofts, a redevelopment project that will displace what's left of the historic Gary Public Schools Memorial Auditorium in downtown Gary.

Developer MVAH Partners and general contractor BWI/Equiteam JV are looking for qualified contractors to build out a three-story, 40,000-square-foot multi-family building aimed at helping revitalize downtown Gary. Funded through Indiana's Moving Forward 3.0 program, Broadway Lofts will include 38 loft-style apartments, 4,000 square feet for ground-floor retail and 2,000 square feet of community space.

The mixed-use apartment and retail building will be powered by solar energy and include a greenhouse that will be operated by Gary's Faith Farms. The $11 million building will be located at Broadway and Seventh Avenue, but its rear parking lot will encroach on the Memorial Auditorium, an Italian Renaissance and Spanish Colonial Revival structure at Massachusetts Street and Seventh Avenue that's hosted many high school graduation ceremonies, Golden Gloves boxing tournaments, and prep basketball sectionals until it was largely destroyed by the Great Gary Arson of 1997.

The historic structure, which featured ornate architectural flourishes like double-terraced stone steps and arched entrances, hosted President Harry Truman, crooner Frank Sinatra and hometown hero and astronaut Frank Borman before closing in 1972. The Jackson 5 famously won an amateur talent show there when it was still a major music venue in the city, hosting an annual citywide concert. In recent years, the decaying husk of the once-grand auditorium has mainly been home to urban explorers, photographers, graffiti artists and a mysterious person who left a bright pink grand piano inside the long-abandoned building.

Gary Director of Development A.J. Bytnar said the remains of the Memorial Auditorium could be torn down as soon as October. 

While downtown has many other vacancies and empty buildings that are less historic, Bytnar said it was a city-owned property that Gary does not have the resources to rehabilitate. 

"The crux is the funds and the time," he said. "Many buildings are in such a state of disrepair that they're far too gone structurally and far too expensive economically to preserve," he said. "Time is working against us. With the winters that we have, Mother Nature is working against us. If a group or someone with deep pockets wanted to come in tomorrow to stabilize the property, we would be happy to work with the developer to preserve it. But we have to identify how to use limited resources."

The Gary Public Schools Memorial Auditorium, which the Gary Redevelopment Commission acquired in 2016, was once on the National Register of Historic Places as part of a historic district downtown, but it was deemed in such disrepair in 2013 that it no longer contributed.

A second phase of Broadway Lofts could include townhomes that would be located on the site of the auditorium, Byntar said.

Bids for Broadway Lofts must be submitting by 3 p.m. Sept. 20. Anyone interested in bidding must request a bid packet from by Sept. 11.

A pre-bid conference with prospective bidders will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 4th at the Arthouse at 411 E. 5th Ave in Gary.


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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.

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