Michigan City City Hall

MICHIGAN CITY — A nine-story building featuring 128 upscale one- and two-bedroom apartments is planned for downtown Michigan City.

Retail on the main level and a restaurant on the top floor are included in the $45 million structure at 6th and Pine streets planned by Michigan City Development Partners.

A fitness center, party room and bicycle storage are included in the design.

Michigan City Redevelopment Commission President Don Babcock said the goal is to start construction in April and be finished in the summer of 2021.

He expects the commission and the developer to approve a contract for construction by the end of the year.

"The city’s investment is $4 million to get a $45 million high quality project that we’ve been dreaming about for at least two administrations," Babcock said.

The city’s money went toward the former Memorial Hospital site becoming shovel ready, with parking for more than 200 vehicles. Significant drainage work was also performed, Babcock said.

Ruth Wuorenma, of Neighborhood Capital Institute in Chicago, acting on behalf of the city, recommended Michigan City Development Partners over another developer with similar plans.

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She told the RDC the developer is not seeking further assistance from the city.

"They’re asking for nothing beyond what you’ve already committed to," she said.

Babcock said the retail stores and restaurant will be open to the public.

He expects the project will noticeably further the revitalization of downtown, which began with a project featuring over 40 residential units for artists in the former six-story Warren Building at 7th and Franklin streets. A $10.5 million state grant helped refurbish the nearly century old building converted into an artist colony in 2016.

Babcock said there are other potential investments of similar size in the discussion stage.

Initially, he said, adding streetscapes and two-way vehicular travel downtown, along with improvements at Washington Park at the lakefront, helped create interest. That was enhanced by the designation of the national lakeshore as the Indiana Dunes National Park, and by prospects of the South Shore Line's double-tracking project speeding up rail travel to and from Chicago.

The NIPSCO generating station closing by 2028 and the opportunities that present for that stretch of lakefront has also captured more attention for the city.

"All of that plays together to create a better place to live and work and invest," Babcock said.