Candidates touting new progress on Shops on Main
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org November 4, 2012 10:30PM
A dump truck leaves after depositing a load of dirt in the area southeast of the U.S. 41 and Main Street intersection where a shopping area has been long-planned in Schererville, Ind. Friday November 2, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:17AM
Two Schererville Town Councilman are touting the revival of the Shops on Main project as they campaign for higher office.
Indiana House District 15 candidate Hal Slager and Lake County Commissioner candidate Jerry Tippy — both Republicans — have mentioned a new vision for the planned lifestyle center in recent forums and campaign mailers.
Tippy wrote that it could be “one of the largest projects in the state of Indiana” and may create 500 new jobs and at least 35 new businesses. He mentioned that the developer has agreed to pay for more than $2 million in road improvements.
He cited the project as proof that he will make job creation a priority if he is elected.
Boyer Properties and Regency Centers had seven of 10 tenants lined up for the Shops on Main when the economy started to go south in 2008. Boyer had already demolished the former Schererville Fun Center.
Thus, a prime retail spot at the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Main Street sat empty, enveloped by tall weeds, piles of gravel and a few construction trailers for nearly four years.
But the Schererville Town Council and Redevelopment Commission recently approved an agreement that uses tax increment financing district to spur the development. The town plans to issue $19 million in debt to be paid off by tax revenue generated by the development.
Boyer officials have talked with planning officials in several work sessions, but they have not taken the revised plans in front of the Plan Commission for approval yet.
Slager said Boyer has started drainage work on part of the site. The previous plan commission approvals for the projects have expired.
Owner Bruce Boyer did not respond to multiple messages left for comment.
At a recent candidates forum, Slager stressed that the development will not only provide construction jobs, but permanent retail jobs as well.
“We see lot of signs of development going on,” Slager said. “Unlike what’s happening in Illinois, companies want to come to our state.”
The original concept for Shops on Main envisioned a lifestyle center, or upscale outdoor shopping mall, and that vision has changed a bit, Slager said.
“It’s not necessarily going to be a lifestyle center, but it will feature quality construction that will fall within our new zoning ordinance — with no big box stores,” Slager said.
He said that Boyer has letters of intent from several stores so far, but the developer doesn’t want to reveal the names until the agreements are signed.