Local News

Dirt Moved for High-rise Living

(Michigan City, IN) - A groundbreaking ceremony for a 14-story hotel and 12-story condominium tower was held Friday at a site close to Michigan City’s lakefront.


A rooftop swimming pool, fitness center and spa. along with restaurants, bars, cafes and retail shops are included in the construction plans for the site providing views of Lake Michigan on the upper levels of each building.


Farpoint Development, out of Chicago, is behind the estimated $240 million investment along U.S. 12, just a few hundred yards south of Washington Park.


Scott Goodman, founder and principal owner of the development firm, said the ongoing construction of a second South Shore Railroad commuter rail line to speed up travel to and from Chicago was a major factor behind the plans.


He spoke further, saying that there will be more than enough demand for the facilities because of the expected influx of Chicago residents coming here to visit and live due to round trip travel times by rail being reduced by more than one hour.


Construction of the second line between Gary and Michigan City is expected to be completed next year.


“We think it’s going to be a game changer for this part of Michigan City,” he said.


The site will contain 130 condominiums and 230 hotel rooms, along with 25,000 square feet of ground level retail and parking garage space, with room for close to 400 vehicles.


Alan Schachtman, a partner in the development firm, said 60 of the condominiums will be strictly for short-term rental use to meet demand for such housing locally. There will be two, three and four bedroom condominiums, with the larger ones priced at about $650,000.


“When you compare to Chicago, it’s going to be incredibly affordable,” he said.


About 100 of the hotel rooms will be suites, while the remaining rooms at the hotel will be more traditional.


Construction, likely starting before the end of the year, is expected to be completed in about two years.


Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, said the site is projected to generate $430 million in property, wages, and hotel taxes combined over a 15-year period.


“Not bad for a small town in the Midwest,” he said.


The double track project is also the incentive for a structure containing 200 luxury apartments on 12 floors above the new South Shore Railroad commuter line train station on 11th Street, just east of Franklin Street.


Skyler York, the city’s Director of Development and Planning, said construction of that facility will begin in about three weeks. He expects the economic impact from both sites to provide a significant boost to the revitalization that’s already taken place on the city’s north end over the past decade or so.


“We’ll have a lot of visitors here but also we’ll have permanent residents and people living downtown which is very important.  It’s a good thing,” he said.


Mayor Duane Parry called the hotel/condominium project “a turning point” for Michigan City realizing its potential of becoming “a jewel of the south shore of Lake Michigan.”


“This is going to set us apart,” he said.


Parry also said other developments, now in the talking stages, could emerge from the economic snowball effect anticipated from the double track as soon as early next year.


The entire lakefront area seems primed for major redevelopment.


Hulse said housing for the working class is the vision for the 100 acre Indiana State Prison site.


The Indiana Department of Correction has announced the prison in five years will merge into the new Westville Correctional Facility expected to start going up soon.


Higher end housing and other related amenities could go where the NIPSCO generating station now exists.  The lakefront generating station is slated to close in five years because of NIPSCO’s move toward solar and wind-powered energy.


The hotel/condominium site is also expected to be a springboard for reversing population decline and "brain drain" in the city.


Hulse said 20,000 new residents with 5,000 of those living on the north end is projected over the next 10 years.


“This parcel sets the tone for what’s going to come,” he said.

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