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ST. JOHN | If residents like the looks of Schererville's new Shops on Main development, they'll have something similar to look forward to in St. John, with plans under development for a retail-and-restaurant center on the east side of U.S. 41 at 96th Place.

"It will be very similar construction (to Shops on Main) but not quite as big," Town Manager Steve Kil said.

The proposed development was discussed Monday at a meeting that kicked off an effort to update the town's comprehensive plan.

Kil said it would offer about 100,000 square feet of space, on a site of about 21 acres that was originally home to Standard Lumber.

Boyer Property Group, which is involved in Shops on Main, is partnering with the landowners, Jim and Rich Buchanan, in the project.

The development likely won't have a large store like Whole Foods at Shops on Main, Kil said.

"I don't know if you're going to see a giant anchor," Kil said. "I don't know if the site is conducive to that."

He said there will be at least six buildings.

Demographics, an increase in population, median income, and high traffic volume all motivate development at the site, Kil said.

"Everything is coming together now to support commercial development," he said.

The land is in a tax increment financing district, allowing the town to finance work associated with the construction. Kil said the town will do roadway improvements in the area.

The site is across U.S. 41 and just south of the abandoned Kmart property, and Kil said he hopes the new development will spur interest in it.

Development of the site was discussed in 1995. That yielded a self-service car wash that has since closed.

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