LAPORTE — The proposed $24 million renovation of a 680,000-square-foot vacant food warehouse just outside Westville has cleared its second-to-last hurdle.
The LaPorte County Council on Monday gave final approval to a five-year tax abatement on improvements to the dry and cold storage facility along U.S. 421.
"I think it’s a fantastic thing," said Randy Novak, president of the LaPorte County Council of the project being spurred by NorthPoint Development.
Angela Harshbarger, an incentive specialist with NorthPoint, said approval of the tax abatement allows the Kansas City, Missouri-based company to proceed toward closing on purchase of the structure, which was last occupied in 2016.
The hope is to begin work on the former SpartanNash food distribution center by mid-November, Harshbarger said. She said completion is targeted for early June.
NorthPoint Development bills itself as the nation’s second largest private landlord with 170 tenants, including General Motors, and $5 billion worth of real estate investments since 2012.
A tenant has not been lined up yet, but the company projects 125 jobs paying $15 to $20 an hour at the facility.
The goal is to have a food distribution operation committed to moving in before or shortly after the renovation is finished, according to company officials.
Harshbarger said the structure is on 90 acres and its complex refrigeration system remains in excellent shape.
The work planned includes major repairs to the roof and parking lot.
"It’s a facility that has great bones. I like to say it just needs a little TLC and some updating," Harshbarger said.
The tax abatement will save the company $550,000 while still producing $980,000 in new tax revenue for county government, said Matt Reardon, with the county government’s Office for Economic Development.
He said only a five-year tax abatement was sought because the investment is going to an existing structure.
"I think it was a good deal for everybody involved," Reardon said.
Except for a one-million-square-foot plant for General Motors in Ft. Wayne, the undertaking in Westville will be the largest of NorthPoint Development's projects, according to the company.
Caterpillar, Amazon, Continental Tire and Chewy.com are among its other tenants.
The LaPorte County facility has been a food warehouse dating back to at least the 1970s, with Eagle Foods and Roundy’s operating there prior to SpartanNash, officials said.