Valpo redevelopment panel targets old jail, University Promenade
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent June 13, 2012 9:50PM
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:26PM
VALPARAISO — For more than five years, the one-time Porter County Jail sat behind the original jail building, incomplete. But on Wednesday, it and the University Promenade buildings being constructed between Lincolnway and Valparaiso University received attention from the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission.
The commission provided the impetus to restart and build the old jail into a home store and restaurant, but for University Promenade, the panel protected its investment. Commission members voted to loan jail developer George Dovellos of Royal and Langnickle Brush a $200,000 interest-free loan — only for outdoor work.
“This will look like a brand new site,” architect Bret Dodd of DLZ said.
Although work’s been done for planned office and medical space, the project has been retooled with the changed economy, Dodd said. The work will incorporate decorative lighting, curbs and railings around the building to match downtown. Commission Executive Director Stu Summers said the building would generate an estimated $40,000 yearly in taxes, and that will repay the loan because taxes collected in the tax increment financing district go solely to the Redevelopment Commission.
If taxes don’t reach that amount, Dovellos pays the difference.
Dodd said Dovellos plans to invest $2 million to $3.5 million and have a restaurant similar to Munster’s Casa del Mar on half of the first level and the independent home furnishing store in the other half. The basement would be storage, and the top three floors would be more of the home store. Commission members expressed satisfaction that work would resume on the building this year.
“It has been languishing at that location for along time,” Jan Dick said.
The action taken on University Promenade on University Drive is to begin a Special Improvement District, where the commission can raise a levy. The development, which will be businesses on the first floor and condominiums on the top two, has tax money invested in it with the idea that TIF increases in taxes paid on the property would pay for those.
However, if they’re all privately owned, the tax rate would be 1 percent and not 2 percent, and if the university or a church owns them, they pay no taxes, Summers said.
The City Council must approve the district.