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Valparaiso considers issuing bonds for Journeyman Distillery project

city of Valparaiso Indiana website

Upgrades to Valparaiso's "Barrel District" are nearing completion. Valparaiso Development Director George Douglas told the city council Monday that Journeyman Distillery expects to take control of its property from its contractor by mid-September.

"I'm pleased to report that Journeyman, the TOD transit center, the right of way and the streetscape improvements are on the homestretch after seven years. This has been a seven-year project since the redevelopment commission first acquired it," Douglas said.

Now, city leaders are being asked to consider additional financing for the Journeyman project. The city is looking at issuing two series of economic development bonds, totaling up to $6 million, to help the developer with project costs.

Douglas said restoring old industrial buildings is expensive, and costs have gone up during the pandemic. "This project with Bill Welter and Journeyman started in 2018, and it's hard to believe it's been that long already, with additional investment estimated at $12 million," Douglas explained. "I'm telling you, when this project is complete, their investment alone will be north of $38 million."

The bonds will be reimbursed by the increase in tax revenues the project is expected to generate in its TIF district.

Douglas said the area is an important gateway to downtown Valparaiso. "It is being environmentally cleaned up, redeveloped and certainly revitalized in this area," Douglas added.

The proposed bond now goes to the city's economic development commission for a public hearing and then back to the city council for final approval.