When I ran for office three years ago, I pointed out that I didn’t like seeing large empty buildings in our town. Specifically, the closed Strack and Van Til Supermarkets, both on Taft Street, had been closed for several years and that is just not a good look for our town.
Also, the closed Burlington Coat store at Century Plaza was another large building that I feel sends the wrong message about our real booming town of Merrillville. I vowed to work with developers to get these buildings filled or demolished to make room for future projects.
The first building, at 73rd Avenue and Taft Street, has been repurposed into indoor atmosphere-controlled storage. Is that the best purpose for the building? Perhaps not, but with so many years of the building being empty at least the area has been a bit rejuvenated and cleaned up and is in use with activity and lit parking lot areas.
The second building was another closed grocery store at 93rd Avenue and Taft Street. The town has worked with the owner who developed the Prairie Point and The Reserve at Prairie Point apartment homes just to the east of the grocery store and strip mall. Current market conditions and living styles have offered that additional luxury apartment homes and townhouses would be in demand and the developer working with the town had designed a residential complex that will be the envy of neighboring Lake County cities and towns.
The good news, the old grocery store and strip mall have been demolished to make room for the new development. The town worked with the developer to secure a developer-backed bond to do the infrastructure improvements to the entire area and we are excited to see this project’s vision materialize.
My last promise was to do something with the closed Burlington Coat Factory building at 83rd and Broadway in the Century Plaza. We have been discussing the possibility of a convention center on the property but due to COVID and the change in the need to gather large crowds for such events, the process has slowed. I’m not giving up yet, but just not able to share any great news yet about that area of town. I’ll keep you informed as plans progress on this front.
The current town council, redevelopment commission, and plan commission have all been working closely with developers to continue promoting the great benefits that Merrillville has to offer. The growth at the Ameriplex at the Crossroads at 93rd and Broadway has been unprecedented with national and regional companies investing millions of dollars to build new businesses there. Companies like Amazon, Midwest Truck and Auto Parts, Domino’s Supply Chain, Big Lots, and Quality Pasta to name a few. Other existing companies have even relocated to our area from neighboring locations like Lamar Outdoor Advertising which moved there from their long-time Gary location. Merrillville is HOT now… let’s keep that momentum going! -Rick Bella, Ward 5 Councilman and President of the Merrillville Town Council