By Leah Sander
WARSAW — The former Owen’s property along Market Street could potentially be used in part for housing.
The topic came up at the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission’s regular meeting on Monday, March 1. Commission members approved a memorandum of understanding with Kosciusko Economic Development Corp. for them to do pre-development services regarding working on workforce housing in the city.
Warsaw City Community Development Director Jeremy Skinner said the old Owen’s property is the primary focus.
The property is still owned by Kroger, with the city hoping to acquire it, said Skinner.
The store has sat empty for two years. The property is on the market, but Kroger won’t sell it to anyone seeking to reopen it as a grocery store.
“I think we’re looking at what that redevelopment looks like,” Skinner told InkFreeNews after the meeting. “Our hope is a mixed use with housing and maybe a retail/office type use.”
Mayor Joe Thallemer, in his State of the City Address on Monday night, March 1, mentioned the project and suggested that some kind of parking garage could be part of the overall plan.
US 30 study
The commission also approved contributing $32,000 for a US 30 study to be completed by DLZ Indiana LLC, South Bend.
The Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety approved partnering with the company for a $62,000 study at its last meeting on Friday, Feb. 19.
The $32,000 that the commission is contributing as part of that $62,000 is coming from funds raised in the tax increment funding district in the northern part of Warsaw.
The remaining $30,000 for the study is to come out of one of the Warsaw City Council’s funds.
The study will look at 8.7 miles of the highway from North Fox Farm Road to South CR 450E. According to the agreement signed by the board of works, the study will provide an “evaluation of up to 2 routes for realignment of a US 30 freeway away from the existing US 30 corridor.”
This is part of a coordinated plan by seven counties to reconstruct the highway with limited access in an effort to make the drive from the Ohio state line to Valparaiso faster and safer.
“Development of the alignments will include consideration for existing residential and commercial properties, as well as environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands and streams,” stated the agreement signed by the board of works.
The city and county have jointly been looking at three alternative routes around the city. Firming up those plans has been slowed by the pandemic.
The study also will do an “evaluation of the existing US corridor through the city limits to determine the impact to local road networks and access to commercial and residential properties. This evaluation will include consideration for interchanges at County Road N 150 W, Anchorage Road, Parker Street, Center Street and County Road S 250 E.”
Construction of a new freeway across much of northern Indiana has not been fully embraced by the state, but the Indiana Department of Transportation plans to study the issue.
“My guess is … the actual study probably won’t get started until sometime next year. Hopefully early next year,” said Thallemer.
“We have to be a little more careful about publicly what we say could be an option. We want to make sure of that,” Thallemer said. “None of us are road engineers around here. This is a very expensive and complex project and we definitely need assistance, an engineering firm that’s got experience with these types of roadway designs to look at it and just answer our questions, so that we can go with confidence to the public before INDOT comes in and does similar things.”
There will be at least one public input meeting after DLZ’s study is complete.
Thallemer is the president of the US 30 Coalition, which represents the seven counties that stretch the length of the road from Fort Wayne to Valparaiso.
The commission’s next meeting is 4 p.m. Monday, April 5, at Warsaw City Hall.