A Michigan-based distillery that’s owned by a Valparaiso family will expand with a new location in the former Anco plant in the city.
Journeyman Distillery, of Three Oaks, Mich., owned by Valparaiso’s Welter family, plans a second location at the former Anco plant as part of the redevelopment of that property into transit-oriented development
The plans, unveiled and approved Thursday by the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission, also include what’s expected to be an additional $78 million investment in an array of housing and other amenities at the site of the ChicaGo Dash commuter bus line to downtown Chicago.
“Our goal was to create a spark in this area,” said Rob Thorgren, president of the commission, adding he can’t remember the last time someone made a $78 million investment in downtown Valparaiso. “I think it’s going to be a transformative project with a lot of aspects for people to enjoy.”
The commission received three proposals for the project and selected Flaherty and Collins of Indianapolis for the work. Impressed by the distillery’s plans and the size of the investment in the property, officials have said is meant to complement the city’s downtown.
“They know what they’re doing,” said Stu Summers, the commission’s executive director, adding work could begin at the site this time next year.
Holladay Properties of South Bend also submitted a proposal, but Flaherty & Collins Property offered more than double the amount in expected investment, officials said. A third firm sent in plans for only a portion of the large property at Campbell and Brown streets, and officials said they will keep that firm on tap for future projects.
Journeyman Distillery’s plans for the Anco building, which formerly housed a windshield wiper factory and has seen hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment by the RDC to clean up the property so it was marketable, include a distillery, tasting room and restaurant, as well as a retail area. The second floor will include banquet halls and other amenities.
The site’s iconic water tower also will be restored and painted with the Journeyman logo.
Officials said the Welter family looked at the site four years ago but plans didn’t come together.
Commission member Matt Murphy, who also is on the City Council, said Journeyman’s Three Oaks location had 150,000 visitors last year.
“That they want to replicate that model in Valparaiso is amazing,” he said.
The proposal by Flaherty & Collins includes multi-family housing, including a building of studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as townhomes. Some of the people attending the meeting said they were concerned that the development would lack affordable housing.
“We did tell them we are looking for every possible type of housing available,” Thorgren said, adding the project is in its earliest of stages.
With rezoning hearings and other public meetings going forward, Summers added there would be considerable opportunity for public input on the housing included in the plan.
Additionally, Patrick Lyp, the commission’s legal counsel, said the home furnishings store Homenclature, which is on the site, has been leasing its building but has opted to purchase its own building elsewhere in town.