Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly Fall 2007

Real Estate & Construction Update

Major Projects of Region-Based Contractors and real-estate companies.

      Among the busiest intersections in all of Northwest Indiana, there’s a complete facelift happening.

     While it might be difficult to appreciate from the vantage point of U.S. 30 and U.S. 41 in Schererville, stepping inside the Plaza 833 office building reveals a complete renovation project that is enticing assorted businesses to the bustling corner.

     The two four-story towers have long been at the “Crossroads of America,” but only recently underwent extensive upgrades. That has plenty of businesses calling Commercial In-Sites about space availability among the 120,000 square feet of space.

     “This is the largest office building in the west Lake County area,” says David Lasser of Commercial In-Sites in Merrillville.

     Krieg DeVault, an Indianapolis based law firm with an office in Hammond, has announced it will be opening offices on the fourth floor of the building, occupying 10,000 square feet. It is expected to move in by December.

     Commercial In-Sites has also been busy filling in space at a 400-acre mixed-use business park, Ameriplex at the Crossroads in Merrillville, which is also home to the Purdue Technology Center. Commercial In-Sites brokered the acquisition of land there for Pinnacle Healthcare Hospital, which recently opened there.

     “We’re seeing more and more demand for medical and professional use there,” Lasser says. “The proximity of both Interstate 65 and U.S. 30 seems to be driving that demand.”

     The company was also active in the recent brokering the list side of the sale of a series of buildings at 1150 Junction in Schererville, where Drywall Supply is set to open in the 23,600 square feet that sit of 3.37 acres next to rail lines. It had been on the market for two years.

     “It’s rare to find smaller, rail-served property in south Lake County,” Lasser says. “Drywall Supply purchased the whole property, they’re renovating it and found it is just the right fit for what they need.”

     In addition to a busy time for commercial real estate transactions, it’s also been a busy year for construction developments in Northwest Indiana.

     Terry Larson, head of Larson-Danielson Construction Co. in LaPorte, has had crews spread across the region and into the South Bend market and even out of state. “It’s been a busy year for us.”

     Several retail construction jobs-four JCPenney stores, three Wal-Mart stores and even work at the new Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, has kept the firm busy, as have bank construction jobs for Horizon Bank in Merrillville and LaPorte Savings Bank in Westville.

     “Retail’s been pretty strong market for us over the years,” he says. Additionally, Larson-Danielson has been busy transforming Centennial Park in Munster into a beautiful park that is expected to be complete by year’s end.

     But Larson-Danielson is also building new residence halls at Notre Dame-one is a $13 million job, another 17 million-and it’s also working on a softball field for the Fighting Irish women’s team, Larson says.

     That’s hardly the only work in South Bend for the company, as it’s also doing a $9 million concrete job for a new pavilion at Memorial hospital.

     Larson-Danielson has also been building a new facility, valued at more that $5 million, for Truck City of Gary, which had to move from its previous location near the Gary Chicago International Airport to allow for expansion. Larson-Danielson provided the design and building efforts for the new facility-now based just off Interstate 94, still in Gary-with completion expected sometime in January.

     The construction season has also been good for Gary-based Powers & Sons Construction Co. It continues to be active in Northwest Indiana projects, but has also been working on multimillion dollar projects in Chicago, particularly in transforming the Chicago Housing Authority’s developments.

     “We’re just finishing up the Robert Taylor project, which is $39 million, and are set to start the next phase,” says Todd Pressley of Powers & Sons. That entails more than 20 buildings, all mixed-income homes on the South Side of Chicago. Powers began the work in 2006.

     Additionally, Powers has been selected as the general contractor for Renaissance Collaborative, at 39th Street on Chicago’s South Side, which will be a seven-story senior citizens building, while it is also doing a $10 million construction job for the University of Chicago, renovating the old Illinois Bell building for commercial use.

     On the residential side, one of the most exciting developments to hit Northwest Indiana in some time is under way in the Ogden Dunes area. Jeff Brant, of Schererville based Brant Construction, has been busy with plenty of commercial and retail developments, but it’s a residential project that has him most excited.

     Marina Shores is a boating and housing development just off the South Shore rail line in the Portage area. It features several models of homes, as well as a private marina that provides quick and easy access to Lake Michigan. There are about 330 housing units and 308 boat slips ready and people have already moved in.

     He’s promoting the “20 nautical miles to Navy Pier or New Buffalo” as an enticement to potential homeowners, while also hoping to lure those city dwellers who often make their way to Michigan for weekend getaways.

     There’s a yacht club with a pool, restaurant, gas and liquor and he says he’s grateful to be part of the Marquette Plan, pushed by U.S.Rep. Peter J.  Visclosky, to transform the Northwest Indiana Lakeshore into an equal-use recreation and housing environment, as opposed to one that features industry.

     “It’s beautiful out there,” Brant says. “People think of Northwest Indiana as steel mills, but the dunes out there are spectacular. And the Indiana Dunes State Park is right there.”

     Condominiums range in price from $280,000 to $480,000, while home styles offer variety as well, from a cottage house to a more traditional home, Brant says.


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