Elkhart River District plans moving forward with development

NOW: Elkhart River District plans moving forward with development

The Elkhart River District redevelopment plan was the focus of a special meeting Tuesday and some local businesses will have to move out to make way for construction just off Jackson Blvd.

Tuesday was a major step in the push to get the city’s financial permission to help developers move forward with a major chunk of the project there.

“It allows us to have some flexibility in the financial incentives that we can provide the developer,” said Crystal Welsh, Director of Development Services in Elkhart.

Financial flexibility was the key focus of the Elkhart River District development team during that meeting. It was the first of four major meetings with the city’s Redevelopment Commission and now the team is officially able to move forward with a vital piece of the first phase in that project: the Easy Shopping South center.

“Today just starts the process to allow the ultimate financial incentive for the city to be put in place. The community has told us that a full service grocery store in downtown is a critical piece to the River District redevelopment and we are just facilitating that through this process,” said Welsh.

The majority of those funds for the $33 million project are private investment dollars but there’s also state funding being invested through the regional cities initiative. But the redevelopment means all the stores here will have to move in the next 1 to 3 years.

“Martins is being relocated up into the new building that is proposed. But the developer is working with the other stores like CVS that are in there, hopefully to provide alternative location,” said Welsh.

But Crystal Welsh says today’s approval will set the table for more significant investment opportunities moving forward.

“The development not only includes martins but also commercial opportunities as well as residential opportunities so it’s more of a full complement of services and land uses there,” said Welsh.

And after Tuesday’s meeting, it’s time to get down to business.

“We did the work up front and took two years through the visioning plan and then the implementation plan for the river district and that sets the table for smooth progress moving forward,” said Welsh.

Development officials tell ABC57 News they’re hoping the entire river district project will be complete within the next ten years.

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