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Sheraton’s mystery tower linked to airport

Updated: January 1, 2013 6:27AM



GARY — Unconfirmed reports suggest the mystery tower atop the former Sheraton Hotel was erected, but never used, for air traffic control communications at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

Steve Landry, interim director of the airport, said he was told federal officials installed the tower decades ago to hold a microwave repeater, a tower equipped with a receiver and transmitter for picking up or sending signals over a microwave network.

Landry said the airport owns none of the assets on top the hotel.

He said the tower never became active because the Federal Aviation Administration opted to channel data to the control tower with a more reliable fiber optic system.

Another caller, who said he lived in Gary when the hotel was built, said the tower was designed to bounce signals from the Midway Airport control tower to the Gary airport.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has announced plans to tear down the 14-story hotel but she said city officials couldn’t find the owner of the tower that contains two microwave antennas. One appears to be pointing toward Chicago and the lower one is pointing west toward the Gary airport.

The 300-room hotel opened as a Holiday Inn in 1971 and closed four years later.

With $1 million of federal money, it reopened in 1979 as the Sheraton Hotel. It closed for the last time in 1985. Since then, several mayors announced plans for its revival but nothing ever materialized.



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