Developer drops project with incentives

By The Associated Press

MERRILLVILLE — A hotel developer has dropped plans for a $356 million project near one of northwestern Indiana’s busiest highway interchanges after local officials balked at the company’s incentives request.

Merrillville-based White Lodging pitched its plan last year for a complex including an event center, four hotels, an office building, condos, restaurants, a craft brewery and a 30,000-square-foot horse-riding arena at U.S. 30 and Interstate 65. That came months after the company demolished the Star Plaza Theatre, a hotel and office buildings it had at the site.

White Lodging spokesman Mike Banas told The (Northwest Indiana) Times that the company founded by the late billionaire Dean White doesn’t have other development plans there and is open to selling the 40-acre site.

The project had stalled since November 2018 when the Lake County Council balked at a requested $75 million incentive that would have been paid for with a new 1% food and beverage tax in the county.

Merrillville council member Shawn Pettit said he had hoped the White family would continue with the project after the town approved a tax-increment financing district that could have contributed up to $105 million over 15 years.

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