A proposed transit development district around the future Hammond Gateway commuter railroad station is being eyed as key to the revitalization of downtown, where emerging plans already include the addition of 350 residential units, including some through a repurposing of the old Calumet bank building.
Hammond Chief of Staff Phil Taillon talked about those plans during a Wednesday public forum on the Gateway TDD hosted by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which is leading the development initiatives around current and future commuter rail stations.
“We already have several developers that are investing tens of millions of dollars in mixed-use developments,” Taillon said of downtown planning work. “Just today, we received exciting news that the Indiana Economic Development Corp. awarded almost $5 million toward the renovation and repurposing of the iconic Bank Calumet building.”
That building, at Hohman Avenue and Fayette Street, is at the heart of the reimagined Hohman corridor in Hammond's new downtown master plan, which calls for a variety of new property uses, including mixed-use buildings that typically have businesses on their ground floors and residential units above.
The downtown portion of the draft TDD would be bordered on the west by the state line and northeast by Willow Court, taking in much of the area in between. With Hohman Avenue serving as a link, the TDD would stretch north across the Grand Calumet River and take in business, industrial and some residential properties up to the Gateway Station. The TDD would then stretch east along the South Shore Line to Calumet Avenue, and south from there back to the river.
In determining the TDD boundaries, “we’re really looking at commercial areas and areas that are vacant or under-utilized today,” said Aaron Kowalski of the consulting firm MKSK, which was hired by the RDA to help create the districts.
Transit development districts would function similarly to tax increment financing districts, but include incremental income tax revenue in addition to incremental property tax revenue. That incremental revenue — the taxes paid in excess of a baseline amount set at the creation of the TDD — will go to a fund administered by the RDA.
The money can be used to assist infrastructure projects and can be leveraged through bond issues for larger projects.
TDDs can initially cover one-half square mile, or 320 acres. The Hammond Gateway draft includes nearly 332 acres, so will need to be shrunk in size. Once refined, the district will be subject to two public hearings, approval by the RDA Board of Directors and approval by the State Budget Committee.
The new Gateway station, to be located west of the current South Shore station in an area currently bounded roughly by Brunswick Street, Wabash Avenue and Hanover Street, will be the meeting point of the South Shore Line and the new West Lake Corridor. The city plans to build a downtown station itself.