WARSAW — Plans to redevelop the old Gatke property into a multi-use facility have fallen through, according to a Warsaw city official.
The city had been working with a firm that was attempting to line up tenants for the massive, vacant brick structure along McKinley Street, but Plan Director Jeremy Skinner told the city redevelopment commission Monday that the plan was not moving forward.
Michael Kinder & Sons, Fort Wayne, had developed an economic plan and updated city officials in December and the city had been working to accommodate that plan by laying the groundwork to demolish nearby buildings.
The developer sought to rehabilitate the 20,000 square-foot existing building into a multi-use space and then seek lease agreements with interested parties.
“Currently, those individuals that were looking at the development are not in a position to move forward at this point in time,” Skinner said.
Skinner said the latest news was disappointing but didn’t rule out that something could not still come together at a later time. He was under the impression the developer is looking at other projects but left open the door that they could consider the Gatke property again in the future.
Redevelopment commission board member Rick Snodgrass suggested the issue be placed on the agenda for next month’s meeting so the city can look at its options.
The building has been vacant since the early 1990s and is viewed as an eyesore and a safety hazard.
Last year, the city took steps toward demolishing other nearby related buildings on the Gatke campus as part of the overall redevelopment plan.
Four years ago, the city was seeking money to demolish the buildings.
Snodgrass said he’s not resigned to demolishing the buildings.
“Unless somebody comes up with a solid plan with definite investors — my opinion alone — is it may be time,” Snodgrass said. “We’ve been working on this for over ten years. But I still want to hear what the options are before we get to that point.”
Skinner said the city is continuing to move forward in a grant application process with Michiana Council Of Governments for money that could be used in the first step toward demolition and cleanup.
In another matter, Skinner reviewed the redevelopment commission’s annual report, which looked at the finances involving four tax increment finance districts and the Warsaw Technology Park. Those five jurisdictions generated $3.7 million for the city last year. TIF collects money through new property tax dollars captured within the districts while money from the tech park comes from income and sales tax from the state.
The tech park has generated $242,000. State law limits the amount of money that can be collected and set aside at $5 million, but legislation being considered by the General Assembly could change that, Skinner said.
Skinner said the tech park is not close to hitting the $5 million cap.
Nearly all of that money collected by the city is reinvested into infrastructure or used to pay off previous infrastructure improvements within those districts.