CROWN POINT — A former vendor at the historic Old Town Square Antique Mall was given a favorable recommendation and some advice from the Board of Zoning Appeals members as he prepares to open a new location closer to Interstate 65.
Mark Kratkoczki, petitioner and the owner of M.J.B. Auction Services, went before the board Monday seeking a variance of use that would allow retail operations at the location, which is zoned as an industrial district.
The 10,300-square-foot building, located at 545 E. 110th Ave. in the Crown East Business Park just off the 109th Avenue exit from I-65, can accommodate about 80 vendors.
Kratkoczki told the board he secured the warehouse building the day before the historic antique mall officially closed downtown on May 31. Since then, he has been bringing over some of the employees and issued an open invitation to all the vendors to relocate there.
“The biggest thing was they all needed somewhere to go,” Kratkoczki said while pointing to the meeting’s audience made up of some former Old Town Square Antique Mall vendors. “We’ve already had people coming in, wanting to shop, wanting to be there. They’re excited. ... I have a lot invested right now. I was looking out for these people. They’ve been my friends for years.”
Kratkoczki admitted to the board that “he jumped all in” to the process early on before understanding what would be needed to start and he has already posted a sign outside of the future business.
“We want the antique mall. It was part of Crown Point for a long time. I think we are all not opposed to that,” board member Nick Nochevich said. “The concern I have is parking. There’s a lot of people and when that back area is filled (they will ask) ‘Where do we park?’ That’s a very narrow street and can cause problems.”
The rest of the board shared the concern, too, as the antique mall’s parking lot is only made up of 55 spaces and the business area already experiences heavy traffic and parking overflow being near the popular Off Square Brewing.
Currently, there is no signage posted on the streets to tell customers to not park there.
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“You’re going to have to have enforcement and (add) extreme signage,” board member John Marshall told the petitioner, advising the entrance to the building needs to be moved to the back to keep people from parking on the side streets. “You have to get the parking under control and police it yourself.
“I wish you luck. I hope you make a lot of money out there. I mean, I certainly don’t shop in an antique mall. My mom did. Got a lot of junk in my house to prove it.”
The board gave a favorable recommendation with a 3-1 vote. The recommendation comes with special conditions including a six-month probationary period with no parking down the sides of the building and installed signage pointing to parking at the rear of the building where an entrance will be placed.
The board’s recommendation will now go to the City Council for review and final approval. The next council meeting is Monday.
The Crown Antique Mall open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be three to four employees working per shift.
The mall is expected to open in July.
“This would be a great asset to Crown Point. In closing the antique mall, where I worked for 26 years, we had just an influx of people coming in and saying how sad they were to see us leave. Then, when I would tell them we are relocating … they were just thrilled,” Aria Manalan said during public comment.
In other businesses, member Christopher Meyers has resigned from the board. In a letter to the board, Meyers said he has accepted a new job and moved to Texas.
Board President Dan Rohaley said the vacate seat on the board could be filled as early as next week, depending on the City Council.