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BusINess » Community

Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Razing buildings raises redevelopment hope

A crew demolishes an abandoned home on December 20, 2010, in Gary. U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., helped secure funding for the work after touring the house last year with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official. (Photograph by Heather Eidson/The Times.)

A crew demolishes an abandoned home on December 20, 2010, in Gary. U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., helped secure funding for the work after touring the house last year with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official.
(Photograph by Heather Eidson/The Times.)

For urban areas plagued by unsafe or abandoned buildings that drain property values and scar the landscape, the best way to spur development often involves a wrecking ball.

Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago and Gary—landlocked except for the lakefront—can’t build out by scooping up underdeveloped or unincorporated pieces of land on their borders, so they demolish sagging homes and outdated factories in the name of development.

“It’s a very important tool and it’s true redevelopment,” Whiting Mayor Joe Strahula said. “It’s very expensive, but you have to utilize a program like that or else, a small city like Whiting that’s landlocked, development doesn’t happen.”
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Burns Harbor poised for growth in 2011

A rendering of the proposed Manor Homes in Burns Harbor. (Rendering provided.)

A rendering of the proposed Manor Homes in Burns Harbor. (Rendering provided.)

In early December, the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission gave the green light to The Village developer Cliff Fleming to add additional units to his original plat, which Fleming says will fulfill a vision of building up the town.

The addition is planned for the 30-acre parcel just to the east of The Village and will include what Fleming calls Manor Homes. They are two-story buildings composed of eight units with between one and three bedrooms each, some with an attached garage, some with an external garage.
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Out with the old: Small urban town takes charge of redevelopment

A demolition contractor's excavator rips through two old homes and the former Memory Makers photography studio to prepare the sight for homes similar to those in the background. The worker in the foreground is busy stacking bricks on pallets to be sold to specialty brick dealers. (Photograph by Adam Madison.)

A demolition contractor's excavator rips through two old homes and the former Memory Makers photography studio to prepare the sight for homes similar to those in the background. The worker in the foreground is busy stacking bricks on pallets to be sold to specialty brick dealers. (Photograph by Adam Madison.)

As the price of construction materials, fuel and other resources continue to rise, coupled with an idle housing market, urban sprawl may be coming to a halt. Building subdivisions in cornfields is a concept quickly going out of style. Urban redevelopment is all the rage, and it’s increasingly cost efficient.

Whiting, Ind., a 125-year-old town just outside Chicago, has adopted a recipe that can breathe new life into a deteriorating community and hopefully keep homeowners in place. It’s as simple as knocking down the old and starting anew. Cost, however, is an issue, so the city must remain frugal.
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Rico hired as Times community online director

The Times Media Co. has hired Damian Rico to direct content development of its “community.com” websites, the first of which launched last week as CrownPointCommunity.com.

Among Rico’s many tasks as community online director will be building relationships with businesses, schools, governments and other groups to show them how they can get connected with others through The Times community.com websites, according to Times Publisher Bill Masterson Jr.
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Survey: Porter County residents support regional efforts

Vehicles travel on U.S. 20 under the Indiana 49 bridge Thursday in Porter. (Photograph by The Times.)

Vehicles travel on U.S. 20 under the Indiana 49 bridge Thursday in Porter.
(Photograph by The Times.)

A plurality of Porter County residents taking part in a poll support the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, and a majority support the goal of regional cooperation.

However, the majority are not comfortable putting their tax dollars behind regional efforts, saying they fear a loss of control over local issues and leaders charged with spending their tax dollars.

The findings were contained in a survey of county residents conducted by Valparaiso University on behalf of The Times.
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Community leaders discuss support for GRIP, NWI revitalization efforts

Ron Sims, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, sits on a panel Wednesday morning to discuss federal priorities in development and renewal at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary. The discussion was part of the daylong meeting of the Gary and Region Investment Project, or GRIP. (Photograph by The Times.)

Ron Sims, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, sits on a panel Wednesday morning to discuss federal priorities in development and renewal at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary. The discussion was part of the daylong meeting of the Gary and Region Investment Project, or GRIP. (Photograph by The Times.)

To sustain Northwest Indiana’s viability, all hands have been called on deck.

In the launch of a regional collaborative effort Wednesday, about 200 business and community leaders, local and national development officials and legislators discussed strategies on supporting projects that can maintain communities and revitalize the area’s urban core.

Attendees of the daylong meeting of the Gary and Region Investment Project, or GRIP, also helped give input on which efforts can create long-term growth in the area.
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Museum exhibit chronicles Burns Harbor’s past

Westchester Township History Museum curator Jane Walsh-Brown talks last week about the Burns Harbor Exhibit, which traces the history of Westchester Township's youngest town from its early 19th century settlement through the years when it was known as Westport. Through various artifacts and photographs, the exhibit also looks at the construction of Bethlehem Steel, the town's incorporation and its present-day life. The exhibit is open through mid-January. (Photograph by The Times.)

Westchester Township History Museum curator Jane Walsh-Brown talks last week about the Burns Harbor Exhibit, which traces the history of Westchester Township's youngest town from its early 19th century settlement through the years when it was known as Westport. Through various artifacts and photographs, the exhibit also looks at the construction of Bethlehem Steel, the town's incorporation and its present-day life. The exhibit is open through mid-January. (Photograph by The Times.)

Bulldozers crisscross the Dunes, shoveling huge masses of sand and removing “vegetation.” Buckets hauled by cranes remove silt from “swamps” as other machines fill in the pockets of water left behind.

Footage from a Bethlehem Steel promotional film made in 1968 plays on a monitor at the Westchester Township History Museum, surrounded by a display that chronicles the controversial destruction of the Central Dunes and the creation of Bethlehem Steel. The steel company was one of the groups involved in incorporating the town of Burns Harbor more than four decades ago.
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NIRPC board endorses anti-sprawl proposals

A key committee of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission endorsed proposals Thursday to make fighting suburban sprawl a main thrust of all projects it funds or approves for the next 30 years.

The steering committee for the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan settled on focusing growth within existing communities and revitalizing the region’s large cities as guideposts of that plan. The first concept, or scenario, is called livable centers and the second infill. Infill is the conversion of empty lots and underused space into sites for commercial buildings and housing.

The steering committee also affirmed the local development plans of cities and towns should be an important consideration in future projects.
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Lakefront park strikes gold

Waves, stirred by strong winds, crash onto the breakwall at Portage's Lakefront and Riverwalk Park, which is part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. (Photograph by Kyle Telechan/The Times.)

Waves, stirred by strong winds, crash onto the breakwall at Portage's Lakefront and Riverwalk Park, which is part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
(Photograph by Kyle Telechan/The Times.)

The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore received a champagne toast Tuesday afternoon for bringing in the gold.

The park site, a former Midwest Steel/U.S. Steel wastewater treatment plant, recently received the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design award from the U.S. Green Council.

The park, owned by the National Park Service but maintained and operated by the city, was a partnership since its inception between the steel mills and local, state and federal government. Its construction was funded by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and is considered the poster child for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky’s Marquette Greenway Plan to reclaim 75 percent of Lake Michigan’s shoreline for recreational use.
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Tina St. Aubin

(Photograph by Tony V. Martin.)

(Photograph by Tony V. Martin.)

Last year, in recognition of the city’s efforts to revitalize itself without raising taxes, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce named Valparaiso “Community of the Year.” Tina St. Aubin had something to do with that honor, the first for a Northwest Indiana town: As executive director of Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events, Inc. (VCFE) since 2008, St. Aubin has played a central role in ensuring that her city’s downtown remains attractive to families and businesses alike.

“Our goal is to continue to bring events to the community that everyone can support,” says St. Aubin, 37. “That’s what we do. If we can help businesses to succeed, that’s even better.”

As a lifelong resident of Valparaiso and member of a family of small business owners, St. Aubin would seem to offer the perfect blend of community passion and practical knowledge. “We do events that can help business be successful,” says St. Aubin, who has worked as operations manager at Duffy’s Place, the Valparaiso bar and restaurant her husband owns. “I understand their challenges; I understand the risks that they’ve taken.”

Formed in 1999, VCFE is dedicated to improving Valparaiso’s retail environment, initiating cooperative efforts and providing family-oriented recreational events. In practice, that means St. Aubin spends much of her time working closely with city officials and VCFE’s board of directors to plan and oversee a variety of annual events, many of which are familiar to Valparaiso residents. These include the long-running Popcorn Festival (Orville Redenbacher resided in Valparaiso), this year’s inaugural Valpo Brewfest, the Fall Harvest Festival and the VCFE Concert Series, which is a fundraiser for the organization. (VCFE is partly funded by the city, but it is an independent nonprofit.)
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