Aquatics center won’t be coming to Merrillville
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent February 21, 2013 11:52AM
Updated: February 22, 2013 9:53PM
MERRILLVILLE — Plans to turn the former Saturn dealership into an aquatics and fitness center and storage facility have fizzled due to a lack of financing.
The Plan Commission this week read a letter from Merrillville lawyer Richard Anderson stating that proposed developer Douglas Gossage would not proceed with his plans for the property at 1794 W. 81st Ave. because he couldn’t get his financing together in time.
Zoning director Dorinda Gregor said she believed he needed the financing by the end of last year. She said there was no indication that Gossage, who also owns Goose’s Scuba Shack in Dyer, would continue to pursue the property in the future.
However, Gregor said there has been other interest in the building that has been vacant for several years. She said an Infiniti dealership had expressed interest in the property as Gossage was going through the approval process for his aquatics center.
“I don’t know if Infiniti will locate there, but if it decides to, it doesn’t need to go through any approval processes as it is already zoned for a dealership,” Gregor said.
Gossage had wanted to turn the former Saturn building into an aquatics and fitness center. It would have included an in-ground pool with a 14-foot diving well for scuba diving and swimming classes, as well as physical therapy purposes. A fitness/cardio area with exercise equipment and fitness classes for kids through seniors, as well as a retail store, would also have been located in the 17,800-square-foot building.
He told the plan commissioners he needed the storage buildings in the rear of the property in order to obtain financing for the project.
The commission had approved the planned-unit development with several conditions, including that it be for this petitioner, location and use only.
Commission attorney William Touchette said this means the property goes back to its original zoning and if someone comes in for rezoning in the future, they would have to start from the beginning.
“It’s an all new ball game,” Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said.