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Development Eyed Along NW Ind.’s Little Calumet River

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Highland designated a riverfront development district along the Little Calumet in the hope that restaurants would be interested in potentially lucrative three-way liquor licenses that cost only $1,000, or far less than they would normally fetch at auction.

Lafayette, West Lafayette, South Bend and Columbus all recently set up such districts in the hope that cheap permits to sell beer, wine and liquor would spur more development in their downtowns. Hobart ever recently established such a district in its downtown, capitalizing on Lake George.

A lot of the land along the Little Calumet River still cannot be built upon, such as ground that is inside the levee, said Spencer Cortwright, an associate professor of biology at Indiana University Northwest. He and his students maintain more than 50 acres of prairie and wetlands as a nature preserve along the Little Calumet River just north of the IUN parking lot in Gary.

Cortwright started removing invasive weeds from that area in the late 1990s and began seeing the native prairie he was nurturing start to flourish in 2004. He has focused on restoring the land to its natural state since there was too little of it to build upon and it was too close to the levee.

About 22 miles of levees and flood walls stretch through Gary, Griffith, Hammond, Highland and Muster, and other areas along the Little Calumet River have far more nearby land to build on. Outdoor retailer Cabela’s built a 185,000-square-foot superstore on a spot near the river where it would have been cost-prohibitive to locate before the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission built up the levees.

That site – south of Interstate 80/94 and just off Indianapolis Boulevard – had long been a country club golf course. Intensive development such as a superstore would have been impossible before the levee project, said Dan Repay, executive director of the commission. The property was in a flood zone that would have required a costly elevation of the building’s foundation and flood insurance that would have been too expensive to justify.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Nov 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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