November 20, 2014 – Ed Bierschenk
In the next year, the first phase of a project that could ultimately provide more than 200 jobs could be built within a 155-acre parcel in the East Gibson Yard Development Area of Hammond.
ThruPort Intermodal, LLC, is proposing to develop the land for a railroad car repair and maintenance facility and distribution center.
“We still have work to do on the development agreement, but it’s pretty much completed,” said James Wieser, an attorney representing the firm. The founder and chief executive of the company, Justin Murphy, previously served as chief of staff for 12 years for the Four City Consortium, which included Hammond, Gary, East Chicago, and Whiting.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the Hammond Redevelopment Council and City Council. The firm is seeking $2 million in tax increment financing that will be used for infrastructure costs. The company also will work with the city and the Indiana Department of Transportation to add an automated signal along U.S. 20 and the property entrance.
The proposed site is bounded by Kennedy Avenue on the west, U.S. 20 on the north, Cline Avenue on the east and three railroad tracks on the south. Much of the $15 million being spent on the first phase of the project will go toward building railroad tracks and associated infrastructure with $3.5 million going toward a building at the site.
“It will be a great use of property that is unused now, but has great potential,” said Wieser.
The company has already purchased about 55 acres of the proposed site and is negotiating for the remaining parcel.
The first phase includes constructing a loop track and a covered repair facility for Reliable Rail Services of Green Cove Springs, Fla., to repair and maintain rail cars. The double set of tracks will allow the company to work on two full trains with more than 100 cars. The tracks will loop around the old Hammond Landfill that Wieser said won’t be disturbed.
This phase of the project is anticipated to produce about 50 jobs and more could be created if Reliable Rail Services later decides to also repair locomotives at the site, according to Wieser. Wieser attended a meeting of the Hammond Redevelopment Commission earlier this week where a preliminary presentation was made.
The second phase expected to cost $75 million will involve facilities for storing cold products such as frozen foods. Two cold storage warehouse facilities, one 250,000-square-feet and one twice that size, would be constructed on the site. Another 150 to 180 jobs could be created through this phase, which could be done somewhat simultaneously.
“They are all high-paying, quality jobs,” according to Wieser, who said a letter of intent has been signed with a company for one of the warehouses.
Wieser noted that the railroad tracks coming into the site under Cline Avenue and expressway and don’t cross any major roads.
“There will be no worries about train delays or anything like that,” he said. Trucks using the facility won’t be traveling through the Hessville area south of the site, he said.