ELKHART — As local developers prepare to build high-end condominiums at the former Alick’s property on Jackson Boulevard, the taxpayers could end up with a $350,000 bill to make the ground ready for construction.
The City Council will vote Monday to appropriate that amount from the city’s Capital Outlay Fund. It will then be up to the Redevelopment Commission to decide whether the city should spend the money and allow Portage Place Development to move ahead with the condominiums.
Portage Place Development bid $100,000 earlier this year to buy the land from the Redevelopment Commission, and the bid was tentatively approved. Both sides had conditions, and one of the developers’ conditions was that the property would be ready for construction. That is why the city could end up with this bill, said Mayor Tim Neese’s chief of staff, Bradley Tracy.
Tom Shoff, a security company owner and treasurer of the Elkhart Rowing Club, which had its $100,000 for the same property rejected, said he thinks it is unfair that the city, and not the developers, have to pay this bill. Shoff is also president of the St. Joseph River Association.
The Alick’s property is located in the 900 block of Jackson Boulevard on a narrow piece of land between the St. Joseph and Elkhart rivers.
According to Tracy and Shoff, the property needs helical piers – essentially very large screws — because organic material underground makes the site unstable for construction.
Should the City Council or the Redevelopment Commission decide not to spend the $350,000, the land could go out for bid again if Portage Place Development chooses to withdraw. That could give the Elkhart Rowing Club a new chance to buy the land.
However, according to Tracy, the same helical piers that need to go into the ground for the condominiums would have to be used for the rowing club’s proposed boathouse.
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