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VALPARAISO — The proposed Vale View residential/commercial project took two steps forward this week, receiving approvals from both the city council and plan commission.

The project is being proposed by Matt and Wayne Welter for the corner of Brown and Franklin streets. It will also be the first project to take advantage of the redevelopment commission's new downtown housing incentive program.

On Monday, the council approved the issuing of economic development revenue bonds. On Tuesday, the plan commission approved designating the lot its on tax increment financing allocation area.

With the program, a developer would request the creation of an allocation area to cover the proposed project area. A portion of future tax increment financing funds generated from the project would be reinvested into the project. The incentive would allow the RDC to collect the TIF funds. A certain portion would be paid back to the developer to retire debt of a bond purchased by the developer for the project.

The TIF funds would only be allowed for certain items, including demolition, environmental remediation, infrastructure improvements, utility/stormwater items which benefit the proposed project and surrounding properties, city-required enhancements and on-site parking.

The Welters plan to construct a four-story building with commercial/office space on the bottom floor and 12 apartments total on the top three floors. There will be 16 underground parking spaces.

Wayne Welter told the council the new program is making a "big difference" in the scope of the project. Without the incentive, it would be scaled back.

"This is something we hope to be proud of for a long time to come. Initially we didn't envision a project of this scale. The project grew as we worked into it," said Wayne Welter.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.