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Northwest Indiana Could Become Region's Newest Distribution Hub

Homerlee Business Park, East Chicago, Indiana

Northwest Indiana is primarily known for the steel plants that still dot its Lake Michigan shoreline. But with new logistics and distribution facilities sprouting up across much of the Chicago region, developers are also increasingly looking just over the state boundary to find new sites.

Des Plaines, Illinois-based developer The Missner Group plans to launch later this year its Homerlee Business Park, a $20M, 249K SF spec industrial project at 4400 Homerlee Ave. in East Chicago, Indiana, and company officials say the region is ready for new product. 

"If you take a drive down here, you'll see a lot of older Class-B and Class-C buildings, and their parking lots are all full," Missner Group Senior Vice President Ed Adler said. "So there is a lot of demand, and we believe a high-end, state-of-the-art spec building will draw tenants not just from Northwest Indiana, but from the Chicago area as well."

Adler added that he expects to see more development here in the next few years, as more potential tenants note the many highways such as Interstate 94 and I-80 that crisscross the county and connect it to neighboring Chicago. The area may travel a path similar to Southeast Wisconsin, now one of the Chicago region's most vibrant distribution submarkets.

"Northwest Indiana is already moving in that direction," Adler said. "We like East Chicago chiefly because of its proximity to the city. It's just 24 miles to downtown Chicago. That's nothing."

The Missner Group isn't the only developer eyeing potential East Chicago locations.  

East Chicago Gateway Partners plans to develop a new logistics center on a local brownfield site, formerly occupied by a DuPont facility, that could eventually host up to 3M SF of logistics space, according to a report in the Northwest Indiana Times.   

County officials say they hope after the developers complete the cleanup of the contaminated site, about half will be taken over by The Nature Conservancy as a nature preserve. The other 200 acres are being developed by East Chicago Gateway Partners, which is underway on remediation of the brownfield site and then intends to build a 1M SF spec building, Lake County Economic Alliance CEO Karen Lauerman said last month, according to the NWI Times.

And The Missner Group isn't pinning all its hopes on East Chicago. The company is getting ready to launch another Lake County project, this time at Ameriplex at the Crossroads, Holladay Properties' 386-acre business park in Merrillville near I-65, about 10 miles southeast of East Chicago, where Missner is under contract to buy 45 acres, Adler said.

"As a developer, we believe in Northwest Indiana," he said.