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Aunt Millie’s bringing jobs to Merrillville site

Maps

Updated: February 20, 2013 10:34AM



MERRILLVILLE — The demise of Hostess has created new opportunities for Fort Wayne-based Aunt Millie’s Bakeries, a new development proposal for Merrillville and the promise of about 25 new jobs in the region.

John Popp, Aunt Millie’s owner, said Tuesday he would like to start construction on a new $1.5 million to $2 million distribution center and retail sales business at East 69th Avenue and Mississippi Street as soon as he receives all the necessary approvals from the town, hopefully this spring or summer.

He said about 30 employees from the company’s Griffith facility would move to the new facility, and another 25 would be hired.

“Since Hostess left the market, there’s been quite a void. I’m coming here to try to fill some of that void,” Popp said.

Popp said the company, which serves the Great Lakes region, also has six bakeries making breads, English muffins, cake muffins and buns.

On Tuesday, the Plan Commission gave Popp preliminary subdivision approval for two lots on 4.23 acres to build the facility.

In casting a yes vote, Plan Commission President and Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said he hopes Aunt Millie’s will spur more development along Mississippi Street.

Gary Torrenga, of Torrenga Engineering in Munster, said the distribution center would be to the rear of the building and the retail sales store at the front. He said there would be loading docks on the north, south and west sides of the building.

Torrenga said while the company will have two lots, the distribution building will be built on one parcel and the other will remain vacant for now.

“The owner has no intention now to sell or develop the lot. He’ll hang onto it,” Torrenga said.

A representative of Robinson Engineering, the town’s engineers, suggested both Indiana Avenue and 69th Street be resurfaced and that lighting be installed at 69th and Indiana, at a bare minimum.

Commission member Brian Dering suggested Popp use energy-efficient LED lighting and told Popp he’d like the maintenance building to be built of a better material than corrugated metal when it is constructed.

Commission Attorney William Touchette asked if trucks would be housed at the distribution facility after-hours. Popp said larger transports would be at the building from 6 to 9 p.m. and smaller, route trucks would be there from 4 to 6 a.m. He said the trucks would be screened from Mississippi Street.

The company has to come back before the Plan Commission next month and still must appear before the Board of Zoning Appeals for sign approval.



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