The Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission will likely select a developer for transforming the former Anco site south of downtown into a mix of housing, retail and offices, and a transportation hub at its meeting next month after receiving three proposals for the property.
Stu Summers, the commission’s executive director, opened the proposals from Holladay Properties, Flaherty and Collins Properties, and Envoy Inc., at Thursday’s meeting and said he would go through them and return to the commission with a recommendation at their May 10 meeting.
Summers tried to give brief summaries of each of the packets but admitted he was seeing them for the first time, and one proposal was 107 pages long.
“It looks like you have a lot of things to go over,” said commission president Rob Thorgren.
The RDC purchased the former Anco building out of receivership in April 2017 for $175,000 and has paid for cleanup, including asbestos and mercury removal, officials have said. The property includes seven buildings that total 130,000 square feet, though two of those buildings will be torn down. The commission also has acquired seven homes on property on Brown Street that is part of the project.
Anco, which manufactured windshield wipers, moved out of the complex in the 1960s.
The site, Summers said, was a tainted, old industrial center that private investors were not able to tackle because of the barriers posed by hazardous materials, including asbestos.
Now that the RDC has cleaned up the property and made it marketable, it’s time to move forward, officials said.
“We’re looking at the private sector for development there to complement the downtown, support the Chicago Dash (commuter bus service to downtown Chicago) and add to the tax base,” he said.
The criteria he and his staff will consider as selecting a developer will include how much private investment they can make, the expected assessed valuation on the improved property, and how the improvements will complement the downtown.
“We don’t want to steal from downtown,” he said. “We want to complement downtown.”
Between funds from the Regional Development Authority and a city match from tax increment finance funds, Summers said the commission has $13 million to offer toward the development, and officials hope whichever firm is selected can kick in another $13 million.
Holladay Properties, which has headquarters in South Bend, has undertaken several projects in the area, including the Promenade at Founders Square in Portage’s budding downtown district.
Envoy Inc. and Flaherty and Collins Properties, both with offices in Indianapolis, tout an assortment of projects throughout the state on their websites.
Once the commission agrees on a developer, Summers said the next steps would include negotiating an agreement with that firm and obtaining all of the necessary permits for the project to move forward. Work at the site, he added, could begin before this time next year.
“We’re anxious to get something going there,” he said.
Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.