Hobart council tables tax abatement for proposed medical facility
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 15, 2013 10:06PM
Updated: June 18, 2013 7:22AM
HOBART — The City Council tabled action Wednesday on a resolution that would provide property tax abatement to a medical building proposed to be built just south of Marcella Boulevard and 61st Avenue, citing traffic concerns.
Merrillville attorney J.J. Stankiewicz, speaking for Covel Investments LLC, said 85 percent of the 28,000-square-foot building would be medical/professional with either a bank, deli or similar business with a drive-thru included.
Stankiewicz said a large portion would be taken up by a clinic that specializes in lower back pain management. He would not divulge the doctors’ names, but said they rent at another location in the city. He said the clinic has 15 employees, but hopes to grow to 65 employees at the new location.
If this project goes through, a second phase would be built across Marcella Boulevard and would possibly include suppliers, X-ray, imaging, radiology and rehabilitation, the attorney said.
Stankiewicz said the first building will cost $2.2 million and the developers spent an additional $400,000 for an underground irrigation system for storm water drainage.
Council members said traffic at the intersection is heavy at certain times of the day and the clinic would add to it. They asked Stankiewicz why the developers aren’t accessing 62nd Avenue instead of 61st Avenue.
Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, also questioned why the developers would want to build in a largely industrial area instead of near St. Mary Medical Center.
Stankiewicz said the developers want a location just off Interstate 65, adding St. Mary doesn’t offer the same services. He said the owner of the parcel near 62nd won’t sell the parcel needed for them to access the road at an agreeable price.
Some traffic solutions were discussed, including being able to make a right turn only from the clinic and a deceleration lane. City engineer Phil Gralik said a concrete median could be installed as well.
Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, said the city and developers will work together to solve the traffic problem.
“We can’t pull the permit to break ground. It would void the tax abatement,” Stankiewicz said.
In another matter, the council decided not to make a temporary loan this year in anticipation of tax money coming in, based on Clerk-Treasurer Deborah Longer’s recommendation.
“I recommend not entering this midyear program and instead rely on Lake County to make its tax distribution on time. We’ll be fine either way,” said Longer, who said she didn’t want the city to have to pay the interest on the loan.
Police Chief Rick Zormier accepted a $400 check from the Knights of Columbus St. Thomas Council 1347 for the Community Athletic Program, which he initiated for city youth a couple months ago.
“We’ll try to keep donating. We have to keep our youth on the good side,” said Joel Helding, with the organization.
Zormier said 20 to 45 kids participate in the program each Tuesday and Wednesday. He said with summer coming, the program may be moved up from the current 3 to 7 p.m. to 2 to 5 p.m. He said it may be expanded by another day, too.