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Northwest Indiana.


Most real-estate brokers don't think of Northwest Indiana when looking for office space any more than they think of indianapolis when looking for steel mills.

But an office building boom, by Northwest Indiana standards, anyway, may be about to change that. The boom is responsible for more than 200,000 square feet of new office construction in the past 18 months, the renovation of another 165,000 square feet of space, and plans for the first high-rise office tower in almost 20 years.

The activity is attracting Illinois businesses for the first time, and is giving economic development officials new hope of attracting professional service industry firms. Developers say the growth is still slow and controlled enough to prevent any glut. They predict about million square feet of new space by the end of the decade.

Northwest Indiana has had a stigma of being only a steel town," says Jeff Brant, vice president of the Brant Companies of Griffith, which is building office complexes in both Merrillville and Schererville. "Now, as people from Illinois are coming over and finding Northwest Indiana a great place to live, they're going to find it's a great place to conduct business as well," Brant says.

All of the developers in the area say that so far their growth has been fueled mostly by local businesses seeking to expand, as well as companies seeking to locate operations in the Calument Region. Before the current building started, vacant class A office space was scarce in the area. A survey by the Lake County Economic Development Authority last year found only 231,600 square feet of office space available in buildings with more than 5,000 square feet of off ice space.

"Almost for the first time in the history of the region, class A office space is being put on the market,"says Janet Cypra, executive director of the LCEDA. "And this is important in that it offers good quality office space to service businesses we could not attract to the area before."

Among the most active builders is Gough & Lesch Development Corp., which has three different projects with more than 120,000 square feet of space either planned or under construction. "The reason I moved up here from indianapolis earlier this year) is I see a real opportunity if people go out and market the area," says Phil Hasiak, vice president of Gough & Lesch. "I've seen what's been done in Indianapolis, in Chicago. There hasn't been a real professional marketing effort here like they do there."

The greatest amount of space now on the market is the 121,600-square foot Enterprise Corporate Center at the corner of U.S. 30 and U.S. 41 in Schererville. It is owned by NIPSCO Industries, which used the building itself until it reorganized its management staff and moved some people into the former Prudential Building in Merrillville. "Because of our proximity to Illinois, our competition is Illinois low rises," says Frederic J. Hanak, spokesman for the center. "I think there is going to be a draw, definitely."

- Chris Isidore
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Real Estate Around the State
Author:Isidore, Chris
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:Indianapolis.
Next Article:South Bend/Mishawaka.

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