HUD chief to view Gary’s Sheraton Hotel Wednesday
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 August 19, 2014 4:26PM
Vice President Joe Biden ceremonially swears in Julian Castro, left, as the new Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Castro's wife Erica Castro, holds the bible as his daughter, Carina Castro, center bottom, listens. Castro was officially sworn in on July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Updated: September 22, 2014 11:59AM
GARY — New U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro will glimpse one of the city’s biggest eyesores Wednesday as he visits the city.
Castro, the former Democratic mayor of San Antonio who joined President Obama’s cabinet as HUD secretary in July, will appear with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at a 10 a.m. news conference on Broadway across from the Sheraton that’s destined for demolition.
HUD is one of the key federal agencies assisting city officials to jumpstart an economic revival in the city.
Workers from Homrich Inc., the Michigan-based demolition contractor and local contractor Powers & Sons Construction, have already demolished the overhead bridge that linked the Sheraton parking garage to the Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center.
The $1.77 million project is taking months to complete. It suffered an initial setback when asbestos was discovered, then had to be removed. HUD contributed $600,000 through its Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Workers will tear down the parking garage. Finally, the long-abandoned hotel is expected to be demolished floor by floor in October.
Gary is one of the first stops on Castro’s Opportunity and Investment Community Tour of cities that have established local and federal partnerships.
Gary is one of 22 cities in Obama’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative that links struggling cities to federal agencies and experts to develop plans for redevelopment.
As the benefactor of the federal partnership, Freeman-Wilson said the city gets a leg up when it comes to federally funded projects.
Since Gary joined the Strong Cities project, experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, HUD and the U.S. Department of Labor have worked full-time at City Hall to develop planning for projects that could replace many of the demolished structures in the city.