Old Mill building gets new life in Merrillville plan
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 31, 2014 3:34PM
The Town of Merrillville will soon be the new owner of the former Old Mill Pizza building , which could anchor its new historic district. The original portion of the building dates back to the 1850s. | Karen Caffarini~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2014 6:02AM
MERRILLVILLE — The town is in the process of gaining ownership of the former Old Mill Pizza building, a 19th century structure that could anchor the town’s new historic district.
At Merrillville’s request, Lake County officials pulled the vacant property off a tax sale and donated it to the town, Town Manager Bruce Spires said.
He said some documents still need to be recorded before the building at 73rd Avenue and Madison Street becomes town property.
Town Council President Carold Miano, D-3rd, said once the town owns the property, there will be no taxes on it.
In the meantime, Spires said he’s in the process of arranging for a structural engineer to make sure the building, which he believes dates back to the 1850s, is structurally sound.
“If the building’s not safe, we need to know what the cost will be to make it safe,” Spires said.
The building, which originally was a distillery, housed a number of businesses through the years, the last being the once popular Old Mill Pizza, before it was closed a few years ago.
Miano envisions the building as an anchor for the new historic district, whether it houses a new business or sits empty.
Boundaries for the district have yet to be set, but town officials have talked about having it extend along 73rd Avenue, from Mississippi to Van Buren streets.
“I want it to be the focus of our historic district,” Miano said.
She said if it is structurally sound, the town could rent it out to a small start-up business for a nominal fee. Possible uses include a bakery, book store, antiques dealer or jewelry store.
If the building’s not structurally sound, she said it would remain closed and only exterior renovations would be done. It would still be an anchor for the district.
Either way, Miano is excited about doing some cosmetic work on the building, including taking down the awnings and removing two additions that were built onto the building at later dates.