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VALPARAISO — Valparaiso officials have signed off on a proposal to demolish the former White House Restaurant in the downtown area and build 15 upscale new homes on the site.

The Valparaiso Board of Zoning Appeals approved the variances needed for Downtown Valparaiso Partners LLC to proceed with the project on the condition the development stay consistent to the plan provided on Tuesday. It is being handled by Faganel Builders LLC, Roth Architects Inc. and Lannert Group, landscape architecture and land planning.

Todd Leeth, representing Downtown Valparaiso Partners LLC, said the development will be called Calkins Hill in honor of the original landowner.

"I don't have to tell you, members of the board, that downtown living in Valparaiso is premium," Leeth said. "It's a very sought-after piece of housing ... desired housing in Valparaiso."

The majestic four-story home was built by early Valparaiso civic leader William Calkins, whose family manufactured washing machines in the 1860s. It's often described as the Calkins-Brown House, or simply the Brown Home, because it was owned by early Valparaiso University President Henry Baker Brown. 

Leeth said he walked through the property earlier in the day and noticed evidence of multiple squatters who had been living in the residence while it was vacant.

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Fifteen total homes will cover Calkins Hill, 14 of them becoming attached single-family duplexes and then a separate single-family home. The property, located at 303 Jefferson St. and 308 Chicago St. in downtown Valparaiso, is bounded by Chicago and Jefferson streets to the north and south and by Valparaiso Street and Morgan Boulevard to the east and west.

The project is internally oriented, according to Leeth. The homes will be accessible by an interior courtyard. The front of the homes will be visible to the street. Rooftop decks will not be visible to the street and Leeth said the homes will not have an impact on residential parking.

"People want to live in the downtown area," Leeth said, explaining people often visit the expanding downtown for events, shopping and dining.

All residences will be owner-occupied homes. Eventually, the lots will be subdivided and become a subdivision with nine lots, the ninth being the center green space and parking lot.

"There have been a number of redevelopments and new projects in downtown, creating upscale homes in the downtown area," Leeth said.

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Porter County General Assignment Reporter

Emily covers Porter County news and features for The Times. A transplant from NW Ohio to NWI, Emily loves talking to people and hearing their stories. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 2018 and believes all dogs are good dogs.