White Lodging today announced a more than $350 million plan to transform the site of its hospitality origins in Merrillville, Indiana, into a long-standing economic anchor for Northwest Indiana.
The concept – The Farm at Crossroad Commons – is inspired by Indiana's premier and sustainable agricultural heritage and well-known moniker as the Crossroads of America. The 40-acre mixed-use redevelopment at the corner of U.S. Highway 30 and Interstate 65 will support local and regional tourism and economic development through unique-to-the-region offerings.
The Farm at Crossroad Commons' centerpiece is a working education-based farm and greenhouse, a visitor's center, and indoor-outdoor meeting and event center with more than 104,500 square feet of flexible space.
Supporting these centerpiece elements will be four hotels, a microbrewery, distillery, two restaurants, an art gallery and a 100,000 square foot office building, among other features. More than 1,300 parking spaces will be provided underneath the site.
"This project will serve as a long-standing anchor for economic development and a true transformational destination for visitors to the Region – just as the Radisson and Star Plaza Theatre did for so many years," said Bruce White, chairman of White Lodging.
The Farm at Crossroad Commons: Community Centric, Sustainable, Educational
- Greenhouse, farm and visitor's center: The farm and year-round greenhouse will support the development's farm-to-table restaurants and offer hands-on agricultural-focused educational opportunities for visitors and the community. It will also be a destination for farmer's markets and other local sustainable and health/wellness activities.
- Hotels: The concept features four hotels with 520 guestrooms. One hotel is targeted to be a full-service premium-branded hotel with two other select-service hotels, and a bed and breakfast-style independent hotel.
- Office Building: More than 100,000 square feet of Class A office space would be marketable to existing local companies and those looking to relocate to Northwest Indiana from Illinois and across the nation.
- Microbrewery, Distillery and Restaurants: Two new farm-to-table restaurants – supported by the on-site greenhouse and farm, as well as other local farmers – would offer unique regional gourmet cuisine. A microbrewery and distillery will offer interactive tours and educational opportunities on top of locally-produced and selectively sourced beer, gin, rye, vodka and more.
- Artist Studios: Supported by the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, a dedicated artist studio/gallery would allow residencies for artists in any discipline.
- Townhomes and Condominiums: The development would offer permanent residences through 18 townhouse units and 32 condominiums.
- Indoor Horseback Riding Arena: The concept also features a 30,000 square foot indoor arena for horseback riding and other agricultural-based educational activities and entertainment.
"The concept – a breakthrough for the Region that's both bold and beautiful – is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that pays homage to my father's legacy, and the White Family's continued investment in Northwest Indiana," White noted.
The investment is expected to create more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs with more than $65 million in annual salaries, in addition to more than 600 construction jobs during the three-year project. Over 10 years, the development will create nearly $100 million in new local, regional and state tax revenues.
Furthering the economic development directly from this project, White Lodging will work with local and state representatives to recruit new companies to relocate to Northwest Indiana and occupy the 100,000 square feet of office space.
"With the community's support, The Farm at Crossroad Commons has the potential to have a 50+ year lasting impact on the region," said Deno Yiankes, president and CEO for investments and development at White Lodging. "What an exciting opportunity to be part of this groundbreaking development in the heart of Northwest Indiana!"
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