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Valpo Council supports Grand Gardner Hotel TIF district but plan for revenue remains to be finalized

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The Valparaiso City Council is supporting a measure that would allow for future incentives for a boutique hotel development. Urschel Development plans to convert the 1899 Gardner School that for decades housed the Boys & Girls Club into a 58-room Grand Gardner Hotel.

Project manager Jennifer Brooks says the historic school will contain guest suites and an attic speakeasy, while new wings would be built to house additional guest rooms and banquet space. "We know that we have an architectural treasure here, and we're very excited about that," Brooks told council members Monday. "And we want to build a community asset that all of Valpo will look forward to using and having their friends and family come and use, as well as the university and the business arena here in Valparaiso."

Brooks explained that Valparaiso is only a "tertiary hotel market," but a market study determined that a hotel would benefit the area — and it's supported by the city's downtown plans. The project is expected to cost almost $40 million and create the equivalent of 24 full-time jobs, as well as 68 construction jobs.

The city council voted five-to-one to create a TIF district for the Grand Gardner Hotel, but Valparaiso Development Director George Douglas said they still haven't finalized a plan for those revenues. "They are asking for incentives. That's why we're here," Douglas explained. "We just haven't gotten into the nitty-gritty of those details yet. That will go to the city redevelopment commission."

The allocation area now goes back to the redevelopment commission for a public hearing and final approval. A planned unit development request will go to the city council in May. Urschel hopes to break ground later this year and complete construction by the end of 2024.