MERRILLVILLE — Town leaders have started the process of establishing a method to assist with the development of White Lodging’s prime real estate at U.S. 30 and Interstate 65 .
The Redevelopment Commission and Plan Commission have approved resolutions supporting the establishment of a new tax increment financing district that would encompass the property that formerly featured the Radisson Hotel, Star Plaza Theatre and the Twin Towers.
Town Councilman Shawn Pettit described the TIF as an economic tool to present to White Lodging regarding the development of The Farm at Crossroad Commons project, a $350 million multi-use development proposed for the site.
“When you’re ready to build, we’re ready to assist with this place,” Pettit said.
The Interstate 65/U.S. 30 TIF will collect all of the property taxes from new construction within its boundary, and owners of existing developments won’t be affected by it, Pettit said.
Money it collects could be used to complete infrastructure work associated with The Farm or other possible projects in the TIF area.
Town Manager Bruce Spires said if The Farm is completely developed as it was presented last year, it’s estimated the site could produce $6 million to $7 million annually in property taxes.
The Farm development would feature a variety of amenities, including a meeting and events center, as well as hotels and restaurants.
Pettit said he has been in contact with White Lodging regarding the TIF proposal. He said he plans to meet with company representatives to discuss plans for The Farm.
“I want to see this thing go,” Pettit said, “It is one of a kind.”
When White Lodging began discussing its proposal with local officials last year, company representatives indicated they are seeking incentives from the town, county and state to help fund the development at Interstate 65 and U.S. 30.
Pettit said Merrillville is being asked to provide $30 million in tax increment financing revenue.
The new Interstate 65/U.S. 30 TIF would include an area between Broadway and Interstate 65. The northern boundary would be 80th Place and the southern boundary would be U.S. 30.
Action taken by the RDC and Plan Commission are the initial steps in creating the TIF.
Pettit said it also must be approved by the Town Council. After that occurs, it would go back to the RDC for a final decision.
Planning Director Bill Laird said Merrillville must have tools in place to promote economic development, and establishing the new TIF makes the municipality ready to assist with a project in that area.
Councilwoman Marge Uzelac agreed it’s beneficial to move forward with the matter.
“We want to prosper,” Uzelac said.