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> MIchigan City Development Thread!
Hypnotic
post Nov 14 2016, 05:45 AM
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^^ The redevelopment and planning commissions need to partner with serious and committed major master developers like CMK, BKL, SOM, Related Midwest and Perkins + Will who are qualified and vastly experienced in planning, design and building large-scale modern urban developments all over the world. The city running to Tracy Cross, Hitchcock, Holladay Properties and Haas and Associates for every potential development is creating suburban sprawl that is grossly under-utilizing and neglecting our most prized assets and prime development sites.


The Riverline development in Chicago on an apporpraite scale would be ideal for the Trail Creek Corridor.:

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Below is "Atrium Village" that would be perfect for redevelopment of the former Memorial Hospital site:

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Obviously these would need to be scaled back to realistic proportions for Michigan City with towers varying in height from the 8 to 20 story range with row housing and low-rise town home developments to fill the gaps and add density.

The city needs to be ultra ambitious and Rich Murphy has said they are working to "create a world class city". "A small town comfort with a big city look and feel"...

This is achievable and the Warren Building only at 7 floors is beautiful at night with the illuminated crown contrasting against the night sky and colored lights casting up the building which at 75 feet is viewable from varying vantage points in the city and projects a big city perception to pedestrians and commuters. At street level it gives the downtown a prominence and big-city dimension that I haven't seen in my lifetime. This why the city must attract further development even taller within the 12 to 20 story range throughout the downtown area with visually stunning design and high-end materials that swallow up these city-killing surface parking lots and empty corner lots all through the downtown.


I don't know who is giving them the impression that 4 and 5 story cookie-cutter apartments and public art displays like giant umbrellas and beach balls in public plazas are "world class". We have an opportunity to develop a truly "world class city" with the right design, developers and public and private support.

The city should work endlessly to create a dense and vibrant downtown core by attracting mixed use projects to the area with properly scaled versions of the examples of the Chicago projects I posted. The city is grossly under-utilizing these prime development sites and once they are built with the currently planned lack-luster small-scale suburban sprawl type projects the opportunity is lost for generations to come.

A truly "world class" Michigan City would have an appropriate scale skyline similar to Schaumburg in density but more modern and thinner & taller offering more diverse architecture, multiple modes of public transportation, a comprehensive river-walk, defined shopping, entertainment, tourist and dining districts, institutions for higher learning and interactive public squares featuring displays more memorable than sculptures that you can't determine what it is supposed to even be as we see popping up all over the north-end.

Like I said because of our lakefront, proximity to Chicago, lighthouse mall and casino which has already proven a high-rise is sustainable in Michigan City and adds a lot to our image places us in a unique position to develop "big-city" projects that no other comparable city in the region could realistically undertake. The NICTD double tracking project makes us a competitor of the western Chicago Suburbs that are light-years ahead of Northwest Indiana so there is no excuse. Young Professionals, artists, students, empty nesters and entrepreneurs would want to reside within the North End in droves if Michigan City produces the modern lakefront "big city experience" I have outlined.
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Hypnotic
post Nov 14 2016, 07:38 AM
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Wake up Craig Phillips and Richard Murphy!!!

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^^^^^^ This is how you design an "upscale" 40-Unit apartment building and exactly what Michigan City needs to emulate on the Memorial Hospital site where you're building "Elston's Legacy." This building is visually stunning, architecturally significant, urban, classy, modern and utilizes a small footprint pushing upwards rather than out. Four of these buildings and you will create a neighborhood offering the most luxurious and exclusive mid-rise living in our region.


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^^^^^^This Valpo recycled brick and precast trash going up in every Northwest Indiana town is not "world class" or urban in the slightest. Please demand higher quality than brick, block and flexicore for this prime downtown location. There is no "big city look & feel" created by these cheap substandard commercial designs.
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Southsider2k12
post Nov 17 2016, 03:00 PM
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Interesting thoughts about the architecture. While I would be much happier to see unique building done, take the library for example, but a part of me is just thrilled to see some progress.
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Hypnotic
post Nov 18 2016, 04:44 PM
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QUOTE(Southsider2k12 @ Nov 17 2016, 03:00 PM) *

Interesting thoughts about the architecture. While I would be much happier to see unique building done, take the library for example, but a part of me is just thrilled to see some progress.



I am eagerly awaiting the renderings for these 4 "upscale" apartment buildings but according to the developer Paul Dresden the materials being used already tells me what they will undoubtedly look like. Though I do agree with you that it is nice to finally see some progress. I guess even if they are horribly commercially designed and insignificant it beats an empty field. Though it must be stated that this is an almost negligent under-utilization of a prime downtown site.

Another trap they will fall into is making the four buildings identical. In a modern urban environment, these buildings should vary in look and preferably not even resemble one another while they all possess the same high standard in materials, quality and design. I would like to see contrast with each building offering something the others do not and thus providing a variety of styles. floorplans and amenities giving the purchasers options and a debate yet they couldn't go wrong with choosing any of them.


Example:

This is how I would envision a mid-rise upscale apartment development to offer real 'world-class' design in an urban setting to create an exclusive atmosphere and raise demand. The city must defeat "value engineering" which creeps up in every project the city partakes in at all costs if we are to be seriously posturing to become THE 'exclusive and premier' lake-front destination.

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Building four units similar to these in a dense single site would look amazing juxtaposed against one another and create an absolutely awesome backdrop for pedestrians and motorists with as I said, no sacrifices in quality for the tenants and each building would be unique in it's own right independent of the other buildings. People with money would flock to this site in droves as it would be leaps and bounds above what our region is offering. As I write this I am sure we will get four identical, cookie-cutter precast and brick boxes with no styling and architecturally lame. I wish the Redevelopment Commission would see this post and take it iunder serious advisement.


The thing that irks me about this process though is that the city has spent millions on studies over the years and the "Lohan Andersen Trail Creek Corridor Plan", "The Andrews University North End Plan" and the "Downtown Action Agenda by Hyett Palma" all highly stressed the city demanding nothing less than "unique" and "world class" architecture with high-end materials for mixed-use, mid and high rise developments.

I believe that the Redevelopment Commission is ignoring this critical element of innovative and stunning design with high-end materials while settling for what our neighbors/competitors are already doing. Which is unfortunately, cheap, uninspiring and bland.

There has been multiple master-plans for the 6.5 acre Memorial Hospital site which called for office, retail, condos, rentals, an Ivy Tech or PNC campus along with open spaces in a mid-rise village community.

The Elston's Legacy development is only 2 of the 6.5 acres so maybe and hopefully the city utilizes the rest of the site in accordance with what the experts have all proposed.

The library design is absolutely amazing and the legendary Helmut Jahn is one of my favorite architects. I would like to see the city commission work from other and more extraordinary talents like Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang or Robert AM Stern for example, for the larger developments like the mixed-use high-rise tower proposed on the former News Dispatch and Police Station sites and the new, soon to come, "Entertainment District" and riverwalk.

The Mayor said NICTD will be building a "state of the art" train station for Michigan City on 11th street but from every proposal rendering I have seen they are simply renovating the already pre-existing old station in some form and is far from "state of the art". I hope that these were just "placeholder" designs to give residents and stakeholders something to gaze over as they are going into advanced design and engineering phases in 2018 so I'm sure nothing is settled yet and the Mayor is of course privy to information the public isn't so hopefully an entirely new construction project will take place. A Jeanne Gang designed train station would make national headlines for Michigan City. Everything she does is mesmerizing and a public work of art. We would be on the architectural map with a Studio Gang designed public transit hub/train station.

I fear that those of us in Michigan City who truly study, appreciate and live and breathe urban planning/development have entirely different definitions and expectations of what constitutes "unique", "significant", "world-class", "visionary", "upscale" or "high-end" than the Redevelopment Commission and the Mayor believes along with the majority of developers who have approached the city to date. I believe that they are under the impression that every half-baked idea that looks like progress will be swooned over and gobbled up by the residents as we praise their efforts and ask for more mediocrity due to our long battle with stagnation and disinvestment.

The city has one chance to get this right and is going to be investing $10's of millions in public funds and in some cases giving away land to spur these developments. When they are actively and purposely throwing around marketing words like, "world class" "best lakefront destination in the region"..."Big city look and feel"..."an unrivaled experience" "the premier Midwest destination" and "Atlantic City of the Midwest" they better bring in some people who have vast experience in large-scale urban planning and architectural understanding & appreciation.

Lastly, the city is largely marketing to rich Chicagoan's who are surrounded daily by perhaps the most eclectic collection of buildings in the most architecturally significant city on the planet. These are people who understand and appreciate exclusivity and will pay the premiums which accompanies prominent and visionary design. You can't offer up 4/5 story boxes with pre-cast and brick facades with no styling what-so-ever and refer to them as "upscale" or pretend to be fulfilling a supposed vision of offering the greatest resort destination and premier lakefront city in the region.
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Hypnotic
post Nov 19 2016, 12:58 AM
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I forgot to add that I.U. has broken ground on a 7,000 sf medical building and after hours clinic plus a new Laporte County Library-Community Center will be replacing the old one on the corner of Johnson and Schultz Rd's in Coolspring Township. Equipment is on site and the concrete foundation has been poured for the medical building. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find renderings anywhere for this and no sign with an image at the location.

This project was scaled back to only these two buildings after Laporte Hospital was purchased by CHS who scrapped the plans for the original convention center and fitness center that was supposed to have a pool and other amenities as part of the original plan with four buildings on the site.

I guess this counts as Michigan City development seeing it is a relatively major gateway to the city.
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diggler
post Nov 27 2016, 06:18 AM
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Hotel building boom sweeping Northwest Indiana

Joseph S. Pete

One of Northwest Indiana’s largest and best-known hotels, the Radisson at Star Plaza in Merrillville, will get torn down early next year and replaced with a more upscale hotel with about 100 fewer rooms.

But despite the downsizing of one prominent property, developers have not been at all reserved about booking new hotel projects across Northwest Indiana.

Three new hotels opened in Northwest Indiana this year, and more than a dozen additional hotel projects are planned or already under construction. Developers have announced more than $73 million in investment in new hotels and more than 1,200 new rooms across the Region.

Horizon Bank Lake County Market President Rob Gardiner said the hotel industry is cyclical and has benefited from a strong economy. The Michigan City-based bank has financed local hotel projects in recent years.

“A strong economy drives both personal travel for recreational purposes and business travel for employees to do jobs and market their business,” Gardiner said.

“In addition, in good economic times travelers look for better quality places to stay and are willing to pay extra for nicer, more convenient or more interesting places to stay. I think you are seeing the combination of good economic times and a desire for more choices.”

New hotels currently are planned in Hammond, Munster, Crown Point, Highland, Merrillville, Portage, Whiting, Chesterton, Michigan City and LaPorte. The proposed hotels don’t have the conference space the Radisson did and don’t aim to bring in conventions for out-of-towners.

Instead, they’re more targeted at leisure travelers seeking respite just off the interstate, or business people who might be in town long enough for a sojourn in an extended-stay room.(tncms-asset)6109ec18-b1b5-11e6-ba43-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)

Total investment in new hotel projects, some of which are still in the early planning stages, is on pace to easily surpass $100 million in Northwest Indiana over the next few years. The boom in new hotel construction also should mean a boost in employment, since the average hotel in Lake County employs around 25 workers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.

To put the current hotel boom in context, Lake County added six new hotels in the 11 years between 2004 and 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nine new Lake County hotels opened or were announced in 2016 alone.

“You have noticed a trend toward construction of hotels nearer to medical facilities and neighborhoods to serve out-of-town visitors for when family members need medical services or weddings, parties for special events or holiday gathers,” Gardiner said.

“These travelers like to have options away from the major interchanges. Workers traveling from out of town generally prefer some of the extended-stay choices.”

Improving perception

Northwest Indiana, long plagued by negative perceptions, also is drawing more visitors from the greater Chicago area and beyond, said Micah Pollak, assistant professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest.

“Visitors are being attracted by everything from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, major festivals like Pierogi Fest, apple orchards, the growing microbrewery industry and more,” he said. “There has also been a rise in general interest in the Region as property taxes continue to increase in Illinois.”

Northwest Indiana is a major economic region with a dynamic convention and visitors bureau that’s drawing visitors with youth sports, leisure travel and business meetings, said Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association.

All the hotel projects are a vote of confidence in the local economy and also a reflection of a broader trend, Tamm said. New hotels have been springing up across the state, especially in metro areas like Indianapolis, Evansville and New Albany-Jeffersonville.

“Over the last couple of years, hotel investment has kicked into high gear,” he said.

“The cost of money is low. Developers often see hotels as complementing a big office park, a lifestyle center or a mixed-used development. They develop hotels, oftentimes with a restaurant. ... Hotels are key stakeholders in spurring new economic development.”

Showing a fresh face

Hotels need to be periodically replaced with fresher buildings, because they start to show age after seven years and become very dated after 25 years, Gardiner said.

National chains require franchisees to have newer properties to keep their brand names looking contemporary. Communities across Northwest Indiana also have been increasingly seeking hotels to bring visitors and more outside spending at youth sports complexes, craft breweries and festivals.

Banks have been willing to lend for such projects, especially when well-capitalized and helmed by experienced operators, Gardiner said.

“Like any business, being successful is harder than it looks, and hotels have a very high level of fixed costs that have to be paid, even if occupancy is very low,” he said.

“Once a hotel is able to reach good, consistent occupancy, they can provide very good investment returns to investors and be acceptable credit risks to lenders.”

Nationally, hotels are on pace for another record-breaking year, said Aaron McDermott, president of Schererville-based Latitude Commercial. The national hotel occupancy rate reached an all-time record 65.3 percent last year, and is 65.7 percent so far in 2016, according to STR Inc. data.

Hotel occupancy nationwide dipped as low as 54.6 percent during the Great Recession but is typically over 60 percent when the economy is humming along, according to STR statistics.

“Locally, I believe there had been a hesitancy to build anything so the demand for higher quality and newer brands finally caused the growth to start,” McDermott said.

“We were still recovering from the recession so you still saw a lot of turnover of existing products just like you saw in other sectors. There was also a hesitancy to lend on new construction for a number of sectors particularly in the hospitality market that caused the pent-up demand of new products.”

Confidence builds hotels

Hospitality development slowed considerably during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, as projects got delayed or dropped entirely, said Greg Gordon, a vice president and business banking group manager at Centier Bank, which has financed hotel projects like the Hilton Homewood Suites Extended Stay Hotel in Munster and a Hilton DoubleTree in Lafayette.

New construction and remodeling work in the hotel sector fell off for years, Gordon said. The rebound in hotel construction in Northwest Indiana has just been a microcosm of what’s occurred nationally.

“Because hotels tend to be large projects that require a significant amount of upfront planning and development, this created a four- or five-year period of very little hotel development in the local market,” Gordon said.

“As market conditions improved there was then somewhat of a race to meet the market, and construction activity picked up dramatically and that is still continuing today.”

Bankers balked at lending for new hotels because of concerns about the overall economy, Gordon said. But unmet demand piled up and opportunity emerged in the market.

“The forces of supply and demand then take over and activity picks up,” he said. “Banks began lending again on projects with strong sponsors and owners and viable franchises.”

Both Gordon and Gardiner credited the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBA 504 program for facilitating hotel financing in recent years by reducing risk to lenders.

But there’s also demand created as hotel chains look to grow and replace aging facilities in the Region, Gordon said.

“All of the major hotel chains are rolling out new and interesting product types these days as competition drives the need for innovation in the hotel industry,” Gordon said.

“Hotels are really all about their individual markets and right now Northwest Indiana still has some unmet demand and a need for newer inventory and this has brought some strong operators to the Region.”

Under served no more

Some of the new hotel construction is driven by demand in communities that have been under served, Micah Pollak, of IUN, said. Munster, population 23,000, had only a single hotel until the expansion of Community Hospital created more demand.

And Crown Point, which has 28,000 residents and sits on the busy Interstate 65 highway, does not currently have a single hotel. Hawk Development, however, now is planning a 100-room to 130-room hotel as part of its $100 million Galleria Center on 109th and Delaware Parkway.

“Part of the reason these areas have been historically under served is local resistance to hotels locating in the city,” Pollak said.

“Over time, opposition has been decreasing as the need for hotel space becomes more apparent at the same time as hotels are more willing to adhere to stricter quality, pricing and aesthetics standards.”

Northwest Indiana also is a major transportation hub with Interstates 80, 90, 94, and 65, Pollak said. Travelers often prefer new hotels when they pull off the highway for some rest.

“We have an incredible amount of traffic both to and from Chicago as well as from across the nation pass through the Region,” he said.

“Many of the existing hotels in Merrillville and Hammond, as well as some of the new construction such as at Kennedy in Hammond, are located along these highways in part to serve these travelers.”
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Hypnotic
post Dec 2 2016, 11:06 PM
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That is good news for the region and I hope Michigan City sees some benefit from this hotel boom. The Hampton Inn off of 94 really looks nice from the interstate and coming over the bridge. The lighting of the crown at night is classy and a cut above every other hotel in the city barring Blue Chip. I don't want to see a hotel alley eating up all the lots but 2 or 3 more high end hotels hopefully 6 to 8 stories from Hilton or Marriott would compliment the area near the hospital nicely.

We greatly need some mid-rise professional office buildings with financial institutions along 94 as well. Something like Merril Lynch, Morning Star or Charles Schwab.
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Hypnotic
post Dec 3 2016, 01:28 AM
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I wonder what's going on at Belle Tire that's under construction next to the old Office Max. There hasn't been any workers or equipment on site for weeks and the building has stalled with no additions in a month.

Sonic and Popeye's have also had their permits to build in Dunes Plaza for a year now and they have not had any action on the sites. I cannot understand why development in Michigan City is so slow.

Elston's Legacy apartments has been in pre-development for nearly a year and may not break ground for another four or five months and unfortunately the project is being phased in one building at a time until each building reaches stabilization. This could conceivably take 3 or 4, maybe even 5 years to complete all four buildings.

Lifeworks Business Park has been an embarrassment for Holladay Properties/I.U. with only 3 occupants out of 12 lots in 10 years!?!...... Valpo's business parks fill up seemingly over night.

Also, the city took control of the former Police station and News Dispatch buildings 15 months ago and demolition may not be complete until late Spring 2017. 18 months to demolish two buildings is absurd.
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Hypnotic
post Dec 3 2016, 03:01 AM
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Here's an updated list of projects under contruction or proposed for Michigan City. Many from the first page have been completed.

Under Construction:

Franciscan Hospital

Attached Image

Under Construction:

Silver Birch Assisted Living

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Proposed:

North end mixed-use high rise with lake views, 4 story glass covered parking podium, hotel, retail, condo/rentals on the former News Dispatch and police station site.

Attached Image

As you can see from the rendering relocating City Hall is a must. The city better not let this building proposal be scaled back to a low-rise or value engineered to death. A well designed glass clad building would be beautiful in this location. If developers the Redevelopment Commission is working with are unwilling or unable to build it then the city needs to find one who possesses the means. Anything less would be a tremendous miss. This would compliment Blue Chip Tower and place Michigan City far ahead of Valpo/Portage giving us the start of a skyline. With another 2 or 3 towers surpassing 10 stories in addition to this one downtown Michigan City would be phenomenal.

Proposed:

South Shore Station, 11th St.

Attached Image

Luckily the rendering of the station says concept only and not final as this would be the opposite of "state of the art"..... I can't believe NICTD is committing $1.5 million with the city picking up any additional costs to preserve that ugly white stone facade and attach it to the new station. That could be a couple million used toward a brand new facility. That facade is grotesque and irrelevant both culturally and historically. There is no sense in allocating that much money for what is essentially trash. This is not the Parthenon!


I think a mixed use high rise on the former Works Building site next to Lighthouse Mall where there is an empty field would be an ideal location and perfect for 2-3 floors of retail, an I Max theater, restaurants/nightlife venues with upper story hotel space, office and residential floors with views of the lake and city.

MAKE IT HAPPEN!
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taxthedeer
post Jan 19 2017, 10:50 AM
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Got a good chuckle when I read this sign on 8th St. next to the county government offices. It reads "Coming 2016" and shows a brand new shopping center but there isn't a damn thing there.

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post Jan 23 2017, 03:25 PM
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Michigan City to copy Valparaiso's downtown plaza

Stan Maddux Times Correspondent

MICHIGAN CITY — Michigan City is moving forward with plans for a plaza to enhance the revitalization of its downtown.

Two of the few buildings that remain empty will be torn down to create space for its construction, which probably won't be finished until next year, Mayor Ron Meer said.

"If things stay on schedule, there could be some demolition work yet this winter," Meer said.

Hitchcock Design Group of Chicago has already presented preliminary plans for the plaza at Seventh and Franklin streets near the former Warren Building converted last year into living space for more than 40 artists.

The idea is to generate traffic by having live music and other events at the plaza on more than 50,000 square feet of open space.

Plans call for amenities like an elevated stage and a portable ice skating rink to be replaced with outdoor tables and chairs from spring to fall.

A building for concessions and restrooms, along with a fountain, fire pits and decorative lights are included in the plans.

Even before the plaza is completed, Meer said it's possible the space could start being used this year to help stage events like the Taste of Michigan City and boat parade as part of the annual Great Lakes Grand Prix powerboat races on Lake Michigan.

Meer said a plaza is among the many economic development strategies being followed to make Michigan City a higher quality place to be.

"Often people will say, 'There's lots of things to do in Michigan City. What about jobs?'" said Meer.

"When you're increasing the quality of life and investing in your community, that's how you get companies and businesses and corporations wanting to invest in your city," he said.

The planned plaza seems to have strong support among downtown business owners, who feel the traffic it would bring is much better than having two vacant buildings that could be too far gone to ever rehabilitate.

"They've sat there empty for decades," said Jesse Cundiff, owner of Hoity Toity, a home decor store at Eighth and Franklin streets.

Cundiff, who once had interest in buying the structures until he went inside, said they're beyond repair unless a purchaser with the financial resources necessary for such an undertaking comes along, and that could take years.
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Southsider2k12
post Jan 24 2017, 01:16 PM
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The tear down of 701-705 Franklin and building of the new plaza was approved last night by a 5-3 vote of the Historical Board.
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Southsider2k12
post Jan 25 2017, 02:14 PM
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The wreckers started taking down both the old MCPD station and the old News Dispatch building.
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Jesse B
post Jan 25 2017, 03:13 PM
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QUOTE(Southsider2k12 @ Jan 25 2017, 02:14 PM) *

The wreckers started taking down both the old MCPD station and the old News Dispatch building.


Any truth to the rumor a gas station, another bank and a Chik-fil-A are going up on this site?
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Southsider2k12
post Jan 25 2017, 03:40 PM
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QUOTE(Jesse B @ Jan 25 2017, 03:13 PM) *

Any truth to the rumor a gas station, another bank and a Chik-fil-A are going up on this site?


The rumor is high end mixed use development.
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taxthedeer
post Oct 19 2017, 04:33 PM
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There is now a $9 millon project in the works to lower HWY 20 and build a runway extension overpass for the Michigan City Munipal airport so corporate jets could land.

Why not just land the jets at the Gary Airport and take the 40 minute drive to and from Michigan City. Their has been a multitude of commercial airliners that utilized the Gary airport in the past that have all come and gone.
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post Jan 10 2018, 04:45 PM
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I recommend the Mich City redevelopment team take a weekend drive through the Indiana towns of Carmel and Columbus to help them form some idea of architectural vision. Then maybe pass through the S. Indy neighborhoods of Fountain Square and Bates-Hendrix to see how old home restoration mixed with modern style construction infill on vacant lots can revive old middle-worker class neighborhoods.
You don't have to look outside Indiana to see things being done right.
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taxthedeer
post Jan 10 2018, 06:32 PM
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QUOTE(RustCoast @ Jan 10 2018, 04:45 PM) *

I recommend the Mich City redevelopment team take a weekend drive through the Indiana towns of Carmel and Columbus to help them form some idea of architectural vision. Then maybe pass through the S. Indy neighborhoods of Fountain Square and Bates-Hendrix to see how old home restoration mixed with modern style construction infill on vacant lots can revive old middle-worker class neighborhoods.
You don't have to look outside Indiana to see things being done right.
Great point.
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Hypnotic
post Jan 13 2018, 11:27 AM
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QUOTE(RustCoast @ Jan 10 2018, 05:45 PM) *

I recommend the Mich City redevelopment team take a weekend drive through the Indiana towns of Carmel and Columbus to help them form some idea of architectural vision. Then maybe pass through the S. Indy neighborhoods of Fountain Square and Bates-Hendrix to see how old home restoration mixed with modern style construction infill on vacant lots can revive old middle-worker class neighborhoods.
You don't have to look outside Indiana to see things being done right.


Columbus is very unique as they had a billionaire benefactor who paid to commission renowned architects for public buildings and structures. Having said that, Michigan City sealed their fate when they looked no further than Valpo to hire their creative and development director. Was there any doubt what he was going to try to achieve in Michigan City? When I watch these meetings I laugh every time Craig Philips "recommends" the commission use Company "X" that he is familiar with from his Valparaiso days. Which is almost every project.

The city uses Holladay Properties for 2 business parks. How did they land another development deal after Lifeworks boasts a grand total of 3 businesses after 11 years. This is prime property along I-94 and it's a ghost town. Holladay is also in the final 3 potential master developers for redevelopment of the former police station site. All of their buildings, being a design/build firm are absolutely the same cookie-cutter designs, are value engineered to the hilt and are being built all over Northwest Indiana.

They have projects in Crown Point, Merrillville, Hobart, Valpo, Portage , Michigan City and La Porte. Every City is littered with the same lifeless quality they produce. A Mid to high Rise hotel with "lake views" is far beyond the scope of their work. They have no high end buildings in their national portfolio. The city uses the same few engineering firms like Kennig Keast Collabrative, Global and Haas for 99% of projects. The Michigan Blvd. project is an underwhelming mess. The median height and design, the plants and flowers, the traffic lights, street signs, intersections, etc, is all bad. For the money they spent one would expect something similar to the grand Chicago avenues.

The city needs to take a drive through Chicago to see how to develop. The interactive lighted structures along Michigan, State, Roosevelt and Wacker alone make for an amazing streetscape experience. Franklin Square is a joke. The decorations, "art displays" landscaping and streetviews miss on every level. Not to mention there is no night life in the downtown what-so-ever. All these liquor licenses and yet we only see run of the mill corner bars downtown. The Zorn Brewery is nice but way off the beaten path.

5 years to develop a 20,000 sq, ft. plaza? That is astonishing.
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Hypnotic
post Jan 13 2018, 12:17 PM
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Woodruff and Son (surprise , Surprise) has broken ground on the Elston's Legacy apartment development on 6th & Pine. Heavy equipment is on the site and areas have been staked and the soil has been leveled. I'm sure this phase will last until late spring before we see any progress upward.

It's a shame these buildings were downsized from 44 high-end units to a laughable 18. The floor count was lowered from 4 floors to 3 as well. I've said multiple times this was a golden opportunity swung at and missed by the underachieving Redevelopment Commission and City Council. Of course no renderings have been released publicly but an architectural vision it will not be. The buildings will be built in phases with the following building not being built until the preceding reaches full capacity. This is dubious as I'm sure in this economy they could secure financing with lease agreements in the 30 to 40% range. It seems the developer is assuming 0 risk.

Paul Dresden pulled a major bait-N-switch from the initial announcement. This area is one of if not the best downtown location for luxury living. I would have liked to have seen 2 mixed use buildings in the 12 to 15 story range accompanied by 3, 4 and 5 level condos with ground floor retail. This site could have been an exclusive urban village drawing residents from all over the region.

I hope the city at some point builds a dense Brownstone/Greystone development within the downtown. I would be a buyer for sure. I read the article above about Michigan City struggling to attract young people. This is obvious, there are no living wage jobs, modern housing stock, night-life, universities, trade-schools, walk-ability or a dense urban core among many other factors.

The city claims to be serious about becoming a world class destination, every official says the planning is over its a time for action etc, and then they announce they are annexing 500 acres for homes and warehouses?!? Really? How about an auto plant, or a mill? Or some other union shop that hires trade workers? Toyota was just scouting Indiana locations, Amazon and others....I never heard one word about La Porte County or specifically Michigan City throwing any package together to become a possible destination.

I am a Union Millwright and I work all over the country. La Porte County and Michigan City is far, far behind similar locations in the Midwest. I worked in Michigan at the Lake Orion GM plant and that area is light years ahead of Northwest Indiana when it comes to manufacturing jobs, housing, roadways, colleges, shopping districts, professional services etc. Rochester Hills alone has multiple international companies.

Michigan city needs to get serious and start upping the ante. We need public officials with real experience in urban planning and economic development. We have some crack team with local experience only. Craig Philips, Ron Meer, Rich Murphy, Chuck Oberlie, Don Babcock, Silvestri? We need to scout talent from around the region and country who have been part of landmark developments and who have worked with major architectural and master development firms. What's taking place in Michigan City is so Mickey Mouse that when we are done, it could probably be said that this city and these officials wasted the greatest opportunity in it's history. I'd dust off the Lohan Andersen Trail Creek Plan and start there. Forget a $5 million, 5 year, 20,000 sq. ft. downtown plaza. We have more pressing issues.

Michigan City is the most underdeveloped city I have come across. I would love to hear a number put on it. I would wager that we have at least 5 square miles of undeveloped land within and on the outskirts of our city. We could be a mix of Traverse City/Shaumburg/Naperville and instead we are more or less La Porte with more shops and less living wage jobs.

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Above is what Washington Park could be with the right planning and goals in place. The city does not even think on this level. We are 1 hour from an Alpha Global city and we are lucky to get a $2 million dollar pavilion. We are the result of stagnation and the same sacred cows controlling every move in this city for decades. In the 90's we get the 10 story condo tower on the beach and nothing since? nothing? How was that not followed up with more condo and hotel towers, apartments, restaurants, shops, parks, concert venues, a boardwalk, etc.? Now after decades, Hitchcock Design Group does a 20 year Washington Park Master Plan that is completely lackluster and calls for renovating current buildings and facilities and nothing about new private/public development within the park or along the beach like the picture above.

The Lohan Andersen Plan called for Aerial Trams, 3 High Rise towers, dense condo development and that's along a creek. This is Lake Michigan! lmao This is all a very sad joke The city owes the loyal residents who love this city and have stuck by it through the years and have dealt with poverty, high crime, menial work and no educational outlets. We should be on the cusp of a renaissance in this city with the right leadership and years from now we will still see the empty lots and and surface parking lots throughout our downtown. We will still have buildings that should have long been demolished somehow still proudly standing providing the same blight I saw as a child. We will still lose our best and brightest to out of state locations to seek higher education and high pay. We will also see the same tired beachfront with only minimal additions. Our roads will be two-way and our bridges will have giant flags though so that's a bonus, I guess.
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