ELKHART — Local shoppers could see the biggest burst in retail growth in years if a proposed development on the north side of Elkhart comes to fruition.
On Tuesday, the developer behind the area known as Shoppes on Six unveiled a much bigger plan for its second phase of construction that would feature three prominent anchors and a handful of other stores and eateries.
Representatives of Thompson Thrift Development Inc. of Carmel, Ind., provided a glimpse into their plans at a news conference at city hall Tuesday and again at the city’s redevelopment commission meeting hours later.
Developers have tentative commitments from TJ Maxx, PetSmart and Shoe Carnival and are seeking other stores and restaurants such as Panera Bread, Chili’s and Five Guys Burgers & Fries to fill out the 20-acre development that is expected to include 115,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, said Ashlee Boyd, senior vice president for Thompson Thrift.
The property is located on the southwest corner of Cassopolis Street and C.R. 6., and includes an existing Verizon Wireless store. The development would involve property to the east, west and south of the Verizon store.
The stores are expected to create 200 to 250 full- and part-time jobs, Boyd said.
The plan represents the biggest new retail development in the city in many years, according to Barkley Garrett, director of economic development for the city.
Boyd said they were encouraged to adopt an aggressive outlook for the second phase after talking with retailers. Boyd said they determined through research that Elkhart suffers from a shortage of retailers.
Elkhart represents the opposite of what they often face, he said.
“Sometimes ... you have the funding but you don’t have the retailers,” Boyd said. “Here, we’re fortunate to have the retailer interest and now we’re trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
The redevelopment commission agreed Tuesday to begin negotiating with the firm over a request for the city to provide $3 million for infrastructure.
Cost to construct the shopping center is expected to be about $13.5 million, but retailers will likely add another $2 million or so to furnish the stores, Boyd said.
Support from the city would help cover the cost of infrastructure improvements along C.R. 6 and Cassopolis Street and inside the development as well.
Boyd said the project would also require a new traffic light near the Wal-Mart store on C.R. 6.
Thompson Thrift has proposed using city money generated from Tax Increment Financing for the city’s share.
New taxes generated from the development would then be used to pay off a bond arranged by the city to provide the money ahead of construction.
In addition to approval by the redevelopment commission, the city council would have to approve details of the bond, Garrett said.
The developer hopes to have an agreement from the city by the end of November. Under the current scenario, construction would begin in May 2013 and some stores could open by April 2014, Boyd said.
The company is also working with owners of Encore Cinemas to construct a new movie theater complex that would replace its existing facility southeast of the project, Boyd said.
He said they are negotiating with owners of the movie theater to incorporate their plans.
The tentative plan involves demolishing the existing facility and building anew, Boyd said.
The retail project will be very similar to a development the firm recently completed on the north side of Warsaw which happens to also include TJ Maxx, PetSmart and Shoe Carnival.
“It’s worked out tremendously well,” Boyd said.
Shoppes on Six was announced in 2011. In addition to Verizon, Old National Bank plans to construct a branch west there as part of the first phase.
Old National Bank is headquartered in Evansville, Ind., and has an office at 300 NIBCO Parkway in Elkhart as well as in South Bend and Mishawaka.
Construction of the bank at Shoppes on Six is expected to happen next year, Boyd said.