New Porter hospital could attract development

New Porter hospital could attract development

By Bob Kasarda - bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 |
Posted: Monday, November 2, 2009 12:00 am

David Lasser attended the International Council of Shopping Centers convention Thursday in Chicago armed with a news article about the new Porter hospital planned for the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6.

As president of the Commercial In-Sites real estate brokerage firm and owner of 14 acres of vacant land along Indiana 49 in Chesterton, he was convinced the $210 million state-of-the art hospital and related medical office building would be a big incentive for national restaurant chains, hotels and retailers to consider opening up shop nearby in Porter County.

These are the types of investments that occur regardless of the shape of the economy, Lasser said.

Porter County Plan Commission Director Bob Thompson said his office has received a few calls from landowners near the hospital site seeking information about allowable uses for their property.

Most of the unincorporated land north of U.S. 30 along Ind. 49 is currently zoned for residential use, but owners could petition for changes, he said. No one has yet submitted any plans for developments piggybacking on the planned hospital, a two-year project expected to break ground this spring.

Chesterton officials are including a discussion on how the town can factor into the new hospital as part of their efforts to update the community's comprehensive plan, said Town Manager Bernie Doyle.

The community has two prime locations for development on either side of Ind. 49, just south of the Indiana Toll Road, he said.

Valparaiso has not received any inquiries from developers as a result of the Porter hospital project, said city Planning Director Craig Phillips.

But there is a commercial project planned for the northeast corner of North Calumet and Burling Beach roads that came as a result of Memorial Health System of South Bend's plans to build a hospital nearby at Ind. 49, he said.

In addition to Porter's new hospital and the Memorial proposal, which is on hold, Thompson pointed out there already is a medical park along Ind. 49 across from the entrance of the Toll Road.

"It could be opened up for a tech-type corridor," he said of Ind. 49.

Lasser added that St. Anthony Memorial hospital of Michigan City plans to build a free-standing emergency room at the site of the former Jewel grocery store just east of Ind, 49 on Indian Boundary Road in Chesterton.

He believes the Porter hospital project boosts interest in land along Ind. 49, between U.S. 30 and the Borman Expressway, and west along U.S. 6 to Willowcreek Road.

Lasser's own property is located along the east side of Ind. 49, just south of Indian Boundary Road. A flier he is circulating about the property highlights in red the details about the new Porter hospital and the four-mile distance between his property and the hospital site.

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