Gary buying old Ford site for $10
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 August 14, 2013 9:56PM
The Gary Redevelopment Commission received one bid to lease the former Tyson Ford dealership on Grant Street in Gary. | Post-Tribune file photo
Updated: September 17, 2013 7:54AM
GARY — For $10, the city soon could own the former Tyson Ford dealership, spread over 7.5 acres of land at 3333 Grant St., to enhance its University Park footprint.
The Redevelopment Commission approved the purchase of the property Wednesday with the Ford Motor Co. for $10. The purchase comes with a restrictive covenant that bans the ground from being disturbed by development, said Redevelopment Commission President Forest J. Hayes, who’s also the city’s Commerce Department director.
“This is a great opportunity for the city to acquire 7.5 acres of prime real estate on the Grant Street corridor,” Hayes said.
Resident James Nowacki criticized the sale, saying the city would be saddled with an environmental hazard similar to the former Sheraton Hotel on Broadway that still contains asbestos.
He said the land is assessed at nearly $1 million and Ford pays about $33,000 a year in taxes. “If you take it off and put it on the city’s inventory, we won’t get any taxes. Redevelopment owns 10,000 parcels with no taxes. ... Let Ford Motor Co. clean it up — they can afford it,” he said.
After years of use by the car dealership, the ground has been contaminated by automobile-related toxics that must be removed before the land can be fully developed.
In the meantime, Hayes said the city will acquire the property and seek proposals to lease it consistent with its present use.
Hayes said the successful lease winner would pay business taxes, hire employees and provide a direct benefit to the community. Hayes said the city would look for someone who’s willing to pay the most to lease the site and employ the most workers.
Long-term, Hayes said the city will work with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Agency to seek a grant to remediate the property.
While the Ford dealership has long been shuttered, businessman Larry Webb began leasing it last year in a deal brokered by Hayes after the City Council rejected rezoning plans for Webb’s charter bus service at the former Beckman Middle School.
Webb operates Eclipse Charters & Tours, Eclipse Limousine and Larry E. Webb Construction Co. He attended Wednesday’s meeting but didn’t speak.
Hayes said after the meeting that Webb is welcome to submit a proposal to lease the property once his short-term lease with Ford expires.