ELKHART — A group of local investors is proposing to build 100,000 square feet of mixed-use development to surround the Elkhart Health & Aquatics Center in the River District.

The group, Elkhart Opportunity Fund LLC, said it would build retail space, Class A office space and roughly 40 townhomes and apartments near the aquatics center, Lundquist Park and Jackson Boulevard.

Elkhart Opportunity Fund, led by local investors Bob Deputy, Tom Pletcher, Brian Smith and David Weaver, has given the City of Elkhart Redevelopment Commission an offer of $0 for the property. The group said it is not requesting any incentives for the development.

“We believe this is consistent with the progression of the River District and its market adoption,” their proposal said.

No other offers have been received.

The proposed mix-use development would be in a similar modern-industrial style as the high-end condominiums that the same investors plan to build at the former Alick’s property on the eastern end of the River District.

The mixed-use development, along Jackson Boulevard, would be three to four stories of 13,487 square feet per floor, except for the fourth floor, spread over two buildings. The first floor would be house retail, while the second floor would be Class-A office space and the third floor would either be the same or residential.

Each building would have a rooftop space that could have amenities and be a social area.

By the St. Joseph River on the east side of the aquatics center and on Clark Street, Elkhart Opportunity Fund has proposed the construction of 27 three-story townhomes that the group describes as “middle-market.”

The first 17 townhomes would be three-bedroom units at 1,900 square feet, while the remaining 10 would be four-bedroom units at 2,100 square feet. Each unit would have a two-car garage.

Investors said they would like to give the townhomes sidings with a mix of brick and cement to “create a pleasing and contemporary aesthetic.”

Prices for the townhomes would likely start at $250,000, according to Elkhart Opportunity Fund.

The Redevelopment Commission has forwarded the proposal to city staff, which is evaluating the offer and will get back to the commission with a recommendation by its next meeting in November.

Elkhart Opportunity Fund said that if the project is awarded, it will immediately move into final design, permitting and preselling units. It expects to break ground in February.  Construction is expected to be completed by the spring of 2021.

Century Builders, which is involved in the project, estimates total construction cost for the townhomes of between $7.8 million and $9.4 million. Once completed, the townhomes will provide a $100,000 annual property tax increment for the city, the investors said. 

The mixed-use development construction is estimated to cost between $8.1 million and $10.8 million. The investors anticipate that the city will see an annual property tax increment between $250,000 and $300,000 from this part of the project. 

Weaver, who led the presentation of the offer to the Redevelopment Commission, said it was important to the investors not to ask the city for any incentives. The expected cash-on-cash return is 0.92 percent over 10 years, according to the proposal.

“This team is dedicated to Elkhart, we’re dedicated to making this work,” Weaver said. “This is not the best financial decision we’ve made, as a team, over our lives, but we are committed to Elkhart and the success of the River District.

Elkhart Opportunity Fund and Century Builders’ offer was given on the conditions that the soil is shovel-ready and free of contamination, and that there are appropriate utility connections.

The team behind Elkhart Opportunity Fund is also involved in the district in other ways, as Weaver, Deputy and Smith make up three out of four private-sector members of the River District Implementation Team.

The four investors, through Portage Place Development LLC, won the bid to develop the former Alick’s property in the 900 block of Jackson Avenue earlier this year.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(10) comments

Seven

The city needs to do some more urban renewal in the 1000 block of South Main Street. The area does not present a positive image of the city to people driving to the downtown area.


sidearm

Find some investors, get a plan and have at it. Or do you want somebody else to do it for you?


DHenke

We had dormant properties that were purchased over years as the City is the only one able to clean up the property and EPA issues. We can continue to sit on the property and gain no taxes, jobs, improvement to the area or we can recognize the sunk cost and move it back to tax rolls. Yes some of the properties are for middle and upper class. We need them too; paying taxes and purchasing at local businesses. The head in the sand mentality is a great position until one looks at financial returns. In doing so we would give away all our properties and reap the rewards of new taxes with new structures all day, every day. What are you investing in? What rsk are you taking with your money in our city? This is a game changer for our community and we have waited a lot of years for this to finally happen. Or we could sit and drink coffee watching the decay of more buildings and our property values falling. No thanks. Some of us believe in Elkhart


Joe King

Great pitch, but why no offer on the property? How much money did the city spend to buy the homes and business, tear it down, and get things ready? Millions? The city and tax dollars are not in the business to make 4 people wealthy by giving property away.....that's ridiculous....another Mad Anothony's waste... Great ideal, glad you want to build it, just pay the fair market value for the land.... Or build what you want and Lease it from the city....Pay your fair share! You already stole the property from the public at the Alick's lot.... City spent $800k for it, you offered $100k (with conditions) and don't want a public space...AND the city is now mowing the lot for you....


JH

haven't you figured out it isn't about the residents of this city.. wake up


fire111

You got it JH! Putting high end property on the tax rolls is stupid business practice. I mean the Alick's townhomes will only bring in a paltry $63,000 tax base minimum. And those huge townhomes that could be and would be and should be, on the old run down site by the new swimming hole, will bring in many many tax dollars. And that thingy about it ain't about the residents...U R correct! Certainly if it were about the residents, the ONLY public access on the St Joe on the north side would have been marked a lot better over the years. Not hidden by landscaping. Mr Shoff should know where it is. Right across the river from his digs!


sidearm

Sour grapes?


sidearm

The 4 guys are already rich Joe. They are wanting to invest their own money with no tax abatement that I can see. Why do you hate rich people Joe? If you are that jealous you should have worked harder. What is their fair share Joe? You are getting grumpier everyday.


Joe King

I don't. You don't know my status? Why to people with money think they can take advantage because they are willing to build something grand? I mean, they are donating the buildings.....they are building them to make money....so, the city should sell the property at fair market value with the cost involved. It this is so good and they are so willing to help the city, then buy the property, build, and sell the lots. But they should be giving sweetheart deal like this... HOW many millions to buy the lots, tear them down and prep for building? Pay your fair share! Shame on you for taking advantage of tax payers and shame on Henke for giving the land away....


DHenke

Fantastic!!! Great look for our city, great return on the investment for out city. Thank you for believing in Elkhart.


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