Porter County may get more B&Bs
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent December 15, 2012 6:36PM
Updated: December 16, 2012 2:44AM
Liberty Township soon may be getting its first bed and breakfast, joining another that was recently approved for downtown Valparaiso.
At its Dec. 19 meeting, the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to consider allowing a former residence at 75 E. U.S. 6 to be turned into a bed and breakfast, intended to serve people visiting nearby Porter Regional Hospital.
The city of Valparaiso’s Site Review Committee approved a two-bedroom B&B above Pikk’s Tavern, at 62 Lincolnway, scheduled to open in the late summer.
“We currently do not have any B&Bs in Liberty Township and the Porter County Strategic Branding, Development and Marketing Plan recommended the city of Valparaiso pursue lodging in the downtown area, so having unique lodging open in Liberty Township and above Pikk’s is a nice compliment to our current lodging inventory,” said Lorelei Weimer, executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism.
Diane Wallace has filed for a use variance for the facility, since the property just west of hospital is zoned commercial/medium intensity.
The four-bedroom home with a three-car garage and full basement served as Wallace’s primary residence until she moved out in January of last year because of the hospital construction, and purchased a home in the nearby St. Andre subdivision.
“I hated to see it torn down, but it just isn’t conducive to a residence now,” given the traffic on U.S. 6 and the ambulances going to the hospital, she said.
Wallace, an emergency room physician, thought about turning the residence into a childcare facility but determined that wasn’t cost-effective, and decided on a B&B.
The home, she said, is about 10 years old and Colonial in architectural style, though the inside, with wood floors, has more of a Victorian feel. If the BZA grants the zoning variance, the B&B could be open by February. Wallace has already dubbed it Duneland Colonial B&B, and said it could serve families of hospital patients, professionals in town for job interviews at the hospital, and families visiting students at Valparaiso University.
“We’ve gotten a good response from people. No one has expressed any objections,” she said. “I think it could really be an asset to that area.”
The property, along with the adjoining property, was rezoned from residential to commercial, according to the planning documents. Compliance with commercial zoning, Wallace wrote, would require demolition of the structure, constituting a hardship since she has a mortgage on the property.
Porter County has seven B&Bs now, and Weimer said adding additional lodging adds to the mix of what’s available for the county’s visitors.
“Our goal at Indiana Dunes Tourism is to increase visitation to our destination and extend the stay of our visitors to include an overnight,” she said. “Visitors want a variety of lodging options from our known brands to unique lodging they cannot get anywhere else. They also are interested in a variety of price points for lodging.”