Gun range at former Fetla’s site in Valpo won’t happen
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent December 2, 2012 4:44PM
Updated: December 2, 2012 4:53PM
VALPARAISO — There won’t be a gun range in the old Fetla’s Trading Post on Indiana 2, at least not from the developers who planned to have it in business by year’s end.
Owner/president Lisa Brickley and manager/vice president Eric Kalwitz didn’t get the financing they hoped for on the more than $1 million project.
It had been an 11-month process that Kalwitz compared to getting to the final, 100th step and getting turned down.
“This is a shame. This project — this business — would have undoubtedly boosted the local economy,” he said.
The two began a series of governmental meetings in early 2012 with Porter County but switched to annexation into Valparaiso in June for sewer access because the septic system is no longer viable.
They won final approvals on Sept. 14, and a local bank approved Kalwitz and Brickley for an initial loan.
However, approval by the U.S. Small Business Administration for a small business loan required them to set aside money in savings to secure the loan, and they couldn’t afford that.
“We spent an exorbitant amount of money, and not only (money for) the set-up but the time as well,” Kalwitz said.
The 30,000-square-foot business would have employed 15 people, and used local contractors for work such as ventilation cleaning, he said.
It also would have helped local businesses by bringing customers from five counties and Chicago, he said.
The property’s owner, Opportunity Enterprises, has put the building up for sale again. According to a statement issued by Opportunity Enterprises interim president and CEO Ellen DeMartinis, the property is listed at a reduced price of $725,000 and has attracted interested parties.
City Administrator Bill Oeding said the property remains annexed into the city even though the sale didn’t go through.
One of the residents who protested against the annexation and development of the gun range, Simone Byvoets, had noticed the for-sale sign.
“I’m not disappointed,” Byvoets said, although she expressed concern a gun range could still happen in the future.
“I hope that Opportunity Enterprises can find a buyer quickly and one that’s not going to be as potentially problematic for the neighborhood,” she said.
Kalwitz and Brickley don’t plan to pursue the gun range further.
However, they changed the nature of their partnership with a marriage on Nov. 21.