(La Porte County, IN) - The former La Porte County Home built in the late 1800s is on the market for nearly $900,000.
Local Republicans are now criticizing Democratic decision-makers over what they described as a "botched sale."
A few years ago, the La Porte County Commissioners approved a sealed bid of $50,000 for the historic building and five acres on Indiana 2 across from the fairgrounds. However, after listing the property for sale in the local newspaper, only one developer bid for the property.
La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens said more advertising could have increased bids. Stevens maintains that the only advertising came from an "obscure" legal notice in the back of a newspaper, limiting the bid submissions.
The current owner, J & B West, now has the building for sale at close to 20 times more than the company paid for it a few years ago. No word yet on what work the developer has done to the property since taking ownership.
Stevens pointed the finger at La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias and Dr. Vidya Kora, who was a commissioner when the decision was made to sell the mansion-like structure in need of repair. Republican Rich Mrozinksi was the third member of the LaPorte County Commission.
Kora, who is now chairman of the La Porte County Democratic Party, said that every effort was made to get a better price and have the structure refurbished into housing.
State tax credits were sought initially to entice private developers to remodel the facility into low-income senior housing. Still, the application for tax credits both times was not approved by the State of Indiana. Kora said the county could have tried to develop housing there themselves without a private developer, but it would have cost taxpayers $10 million to bring the building up to code.
As a result, Kora said the decision was made to put the home on the open market. Now, Kora states, it's better to have a property on the tax roles than costing the county money.
Note: a previous version of this story stated that Republican Connie Gramarossa was the commissioner at the time of the sale. While Gramarossa had helped negotiate what to do with the county home up until 2019, she was no longer a commissioner at the time of the sale in 2020. We regret this error.