MICHIGAN CITY – One of the city's most historic neighborhoods will be getting some new residents with a final agreement for development of one of the former buildings on the Zorn Brewery Complex.
A partnership between national developers UpperCross Development Group and Beucler Properties has announced it has closed on Michigan City’s first project structured in accordance with the new Opportunity Zone tax incentives created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017.
The partnership acquired the property at 113 York Street, one of the vacant buildings on the historic Zorn Brewery Complex. Located in the Historic Elston Grove District, the 12,000-square foot building originally served as the bottling plant for the brewery, but has been vacant for many years.
Built in 1870, generations of families and neighbors have grown up with these iconic structures, only to see them fall into disrepair, said Robert Harte, principal of UpperCross Development.
The plans for the building include fully rehabbing the property, both interior and exterior, to include three residential units on the second floor and commercial space on the first floor, according to Clarence Hulse, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City.
"This property is in the Historic Elston Grove District and follows its Design Guidelines," he said. "They plan to take advantage of the Façade Improvement Program and the Upper Story Residential Incentive Programs."
Deb Parcel of Indiana Landmarks recently toured the building with the developers.
“We are excited to see the proposed rehabilitation for the vacant building," she said. "Recent studies have shown Historic Districts act as stabilizers, increasing property values and home sales. They also have a positive environmental impact.
"Indiana Landmark's mission is to help to restore and repurpose historic buildings, reconnecting people to heritage and revitalizing communities," she said. "We look forward to working with the Michigan City Historic Review Board and the new owners of the 113 York building as they bring new life to an abandoned building and foster positive change to the community.”
“We are excited to see Michigan City’s Opportunity Zone get its first project,” Hulse said.
And it kicks off a larger vision for the partners, according to Harte, who have "also started a Michigan City Opportunity Zone Fund to attract more developers to the area, and utilize the opportunity zone," Hulse said.
“With the progress of the South Shore Line double tracking and the National Park designation for the Indiana Dunes, the low cost of living and doing business, it’s only a matter of time that Michigan City is once again recognized for these outstanding qualities as a very viable choice in which to live, work and play,” Harte said.
He began making individual real estate and other investments in Michigan City in 2015, including the acquisition of a vacant 60,000-square-foot industrial building in the Gaurdian Industrial Park, various residential development parcels, and a vacation rental management company that employs in excess of 60 employees.
“The significance of the 113 York closing is that by taking advantage of the newly created Opportunity Zone Federal tax incentive, it allowed the project to be presented to a larger audience of prospective investors, most of whom were looking at a Michigan City investment for the first time,” Harte said.
Mike Beucler, principal of Beucler Properties, added, "This is the exact type of project that the federal government hoped the Opportunity Zone program would spur, and with the other independent initiatives, including the double tracking and National Park status, Michigan City’s story stands out from the pack.”
“Having developers like Beucler and Harte, who have projects nationwide, investing in Michigan City brings tremendous value to the area,” said Mike Connor of @Properties.
“Beucler and Harte have a long, successful history in construction and development, and now they are joining forces to bring those skills to Michigan City. We are excited to be working with them and look forward to making additional announcements regarding other local Michigan City projects they will be bringing forward soon.”