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Crown Point looked at 4 other sites before settling on greenhouse property for new City Hall/police building
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Crown Point looked at 4 other sites before settling on greenhouse property for new City Hall/police building

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CROWN POINT — Before announcing plans to build a $10 million City Hall and police building at a long-shuttered greenhouse property, city leaders considered four other sites.

The city began searching for sites for new municipal facilities in August when an assessment contract with Wheaton, Illinois-based architectural firm McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie Inc. was approved. 

The assessment included the highest and best use of property, a cost analysis, public access and the option of building a new facility or using an existing one.

The city identified five sites to be evaluated in the study. A list of the other sites considered recently was made available to The Times.

McClaren gave a recommendation based on the process as outlined in its report, with the final say going to a building committee made up of three members of the Crown Point City Council — Bob Clemons, Carol Drasga and Laura Sauerman.

Working with the council members on the process were Fire Chief Dave Crane, Police Chief Pete Land, City Chief of Staff Greg Falkowski and Mayor David Uran.

The Lake County Greenhouse, at the intersection of North Street and Indiana Avenue, which closed more than a dozen years ago, came back "No. 1 by leaps and bounds," Uran said. 

Here are the four other locations considered, along with their strengths and weaknesses, in McClaren's report:

Site 1: Existing police/fire station - East and Clark streets

Strengths listed included the site being adjacent to downtown, familiarity with residents, separate public parking and entry and two separate entry points to the site. 

Among the weaknesses were inadequate parking for police. Also, the fire department would have to move off site, and it was too costly to repurpose. According to the report, there were "fundamental flaws that made the site unworkable."

Site 2: Northwest corner of Indiana Avenue and Summit Street

Strengths included its prime location on a corner of an intersection, separate public parking, sufficient police parking and two separate points of entry.

Weaknesses noted were the site being far from downtown and away from residential neighborhoods.

Site 3: Corner of Main Street and 97th Place on the west side of the road

Strengths listed were its location at a "crossroads" intersection, separate public parking, sufficient police parking, two separate points of entry and possibly enhancing development opportunities for adjacent land areas.

Weaknesses were it being ar from downtown and away from residential neighborhoods.

Site 5: Vacant City Center building near the corner of 113th Avenue and Broadway

Strengths included somewhat lower first cost, its ability to re-purpose a vacant building, separate public parking and sufficient police parking.

Numerous weaknesses included poor visibility from the surrounding areas, poor access from adjacent roadways to the building, poor fit with adjacent land uses and inability to provide two ways in and out of the site. The building also would need costly upgrades to meet essential building code requirements.

Known as Site 4, the Lake County Greenhouse property had numerous strengths cited in the report. These included being at a prominent intersection and easy to find, excellent access to the site and to the city, separate public parking, sufficient police parking, two separate points of entry, a good fit with adjacent neighborhoods and an ability to strengthen the "feeling of safety" for the adjacent Sportsplex.

The one weakness was a somewhat higher cost for land acquisition. In the end, the city agreed to pay $750,000 for the property.

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Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.

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