CROWN POINT — Two new buildings are being planned for the northeast corner of the Lake County Government Complex that officials believe would create an attractive gateway to the city.
Proponents of the plan believe it would provide an aesthetic shield to a dated county building.
The Plan Commission recently forwarded a favorable recommendation to the Crown Point City Council for a zone change requested by Merrillville attorney Paul G. Stracci, who plans to build office buildings at the site.
"We believe a building such as that, first of all, would be a little bit of an improvement to the current government center location, which is beginning to look a little dated," Stracci said.
The Lake County Government Complex opened about 40 years ago.
In September, the Lake County commissioners approved the sale of the open space — 3.6 acres in the southwest corner of Main Street and 93rd Avenue — to Stracci for $409,000.
Stracci plans to relocate his office there and build two separate buildings. He presented renderings of the buildings to the Plan Commission and said the primary function will be housing businesses that compliment activity at the government complex, with a secondary retail component that serves the buildings and the surrounding area.
Stracci plans to attract law offices, title companies, engineering firms and allow for additional space for city or county use. He also believes it is a prime spot for a medical services facility, with an eye toward county employees' needs.
Crown Point Plan Commission member Michael Conquest said a restaurant would probably do well there.
"This is going to look nice on north Main," he said. "And north Main has kind of been in a downward trend a little bit, and this may help turn that around. I think it's a great idea."
Fellow board member Chad Jeffries called it "an amazing building."
"Being able to shield the government complex with something like that — I don't know how we couldn't help foster this thing along," he said.
Stracci would like to see new access points to the site along Main and 93rd.
Approval by the Indiana Department of Transportation is needed for one along Main.
Board members expressed some concern of traffic patterns, which would be addressed at a later point. The site would have road access to the government complex.
The sale is part of a plan to make more productive use of government complex frontage.
Last year, Lake County commissioners used another part of the open space to erect a $2.5 million Purdue Extension and Soil, Water and Conservation office complex.