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WL signs off on mixed-use developments

wl city council.jpg

Standing along Northwestern Avenue it’s easy to see change. 

Mackey Arena underwent a nearly $100-million renovation which finished less than a year ago.  Just down the street is the site of what will be the $38-million Wang Hall Electrical and Computer Engineering facility and now at the corner of Northwestern and Evergreen will be a nearly $50-million mixed use development.

"Purdue overall is pretty under developed compared to some of its peers in the Big Ten," said Matt Garrison.  "Our goal as developers is to try to meet that demand.”

Garrison’s company is constructing a five story building at the site.  It will feature 230 apartments, retail space, and a Fresh City Market.  Jeff Mauer is the owner of the Madison, Wisconsin-based grocery store.

He says this type of development benefits all residents.

"It adds to the excitement of the campus (and) to the neighborhoods around it," he said. "It's going to allow people to spend less time in their cars.  There are more options for them to do business in their own community."

The West Lafayette City Council narrowly approved the project Monday night by a four-to-three vote.  It’s scaled down from a six story complex that was rejected early this year.

However, Councilor Ann Hunt still voted against it.  She says it’s simply too big.

"I wish it would be lower.  It's a big block, I mean from street to street when you drive by it, it’s big.”

So big, that resident Carol Czaja says she is going to move.

“It's too big.  It causes density.  It causes all of the deterioration of the neighborhood and the quality of the neighborhood,.” she said.

But, Garrison says this type of development is needed to enhance student life at Purdue.

"The students are our customer and we are adding retail kind of equivalent to the size of Chauncey Hill Mall," he said. "Ultimately that is our customer and that is the demand we are trying to meet and I think you'll see a lot of improvements.”        

Garrison says final planning stages are underway.  He hopes to break ground on the project by the end of the year and have it complete by August of 2014.

West Lafayette’s downtown also is going to undergo a makeover.

The city council unanimously approved a five-story development at the corner of State Street.

Councilor Gerald Thomas says that is already an active part of the city, but believes this project will help it thrive even more.

"It will add to that area of campus," he said.  "People like to walk around that area.  There is bars, restaurants.  I think it is just going to become a more lively area."

The complex includes new restaurant, 24 apartments, and a CVS pharmacy.

They are all going into a new five story mixed-use complex on the corner of State Street downtown.

President of Purdue Student Government Joe Rust is says this is a step in improving social life for Boilermakers.

"We're excited and it's a victory the building passed," he said.  "But we still want to keep working on this.  More opportunities, more developments.  We still want  more bars.  We still want more stores. There is a big gap to fill between Purdue University and other Big Ten universities.

Some business owners spoke out against $7-million project.  They argue the CVS will compete with other local business.  A handful of students opposed the project because they believe it will compromise safety and be a congestion hassle while construction takes place.

Developers hope to break ground on the development in the next two months and have it complete by September 2013.

The development is forcing Where Else Bar to move from its current location.  Officials say it will relocate just a block away in Chauncey Village.