June 19, 2014 – Rob Earnshaw
City officials broke ground Thursday on what will become a new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in the Oxbow Landing development at Interstate 80/94 and Kennedy Avenue.
“We are excited to see the first of several developments at this site,” said Phil Taillon, executive director of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. Today I believe is the day we quit referring to this site as the old River Park apartments site and start referring it to the new Oxbow Landing site.”
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said when he became mayor the area was a part of the city his administration wasn’t proud of, calling it a site that caused a disproportionate number of problems for city services.
The city purchased and knocked down the apartments and sat on the property waiting for the market to recover after the recession hit.
The $20 million development project is getting a lot of interest from developers now, McDermott said.
“It’s a great addition for our city,” he said. “It’s right across from Purdue Calumet University’s new athletic complex and right across from some of the busiest hotels in Northwest Indiana.”
Construction will begin soon on a new Hampton Inn just south of Buffalo Wild Wings. McDermott said the city is also working with a developer on “a big time project” for Oxbow.
“It’s something we’re really hoping comes through,” McDermott said.
The mayor also said the sound walls along the expressway next to the development will be coming down to make the site more visible.
“It’s one of the most vocal points of our city and one of the highest traffic counts area of the city,” he said.
The site is in City Council President Michael Opinker’s 5th District, which is why he was happy to give $500,000 a year of the gaming revenue he receives towards the bond for the project.
“I’m tickled to death to see this project take off,” he said. “It’s been five-plus years. For Oxbow Landing to have Buffalo Wild Wings — it’s only going to increase the popularity of this location.”
Highland Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro said her town loaned about $2 million for the Oxbow Landing project, which Hammond paid back last year.
“It borders Highland,” she said. “We had many police and fire calls to this site and we wanted to be a good neighbor and wanted to work together to complete this project.”
Buffalo Wild Wings regional manager Jacob Miller said the restaurant will feature its latest, modern “stadia” concept. The inside of the restaurant will resemble the inside of a sports stadium, he said.
Miller also said Buffalo Wild Wings likes to be involved in the community and they look forward to helping out local schools, sports teams and with fundraisers.
The restaurant is scheduled to open in October.