For the first time in 25 years, East Chicago has a brand-new building. Located at 4400 Homerlee Ave., this 249,600 sq. ft. building sits on 14.5 acres and features 20 expandable exterior docks, 35 trailer parking stalls, and 286 car parking stalls. Its proximity to Chicago, I-90 and I-80/94 expressways, and Walmart and FedEx distribution facilities make it a prime location for any company.
“We like Northwest Indiana because of its labor market, proximity to Chicago, and new development in an area that has not seen any new development in a very long time,” said Executive Vice President of The Missner Group Eddie Adler. “East Chicago is a good place to do business. There’s a good government here, and we think there's demand for new, modern industrial real estate.”
The property makes history as the first spec building in East Chicago, meaning that it is move-in-ready and therefore all the more attractive to potential tenants. The property is divisible by 50,000 sq. ft., providing ample space for multiple tenants to take up residence.
Lake County Indiana Economic Alliance (LCEA) worked with The Missner Group, DarwinPW Realty, and Realterm Logistics to develop the property. On October 4, 2022, these groups hosted an open house at the property so brokers could tour the building, meet the developers, and ask questions about the property.
“What I’ve found out by working in Illinois and Indiana is that when companies come over or are expanding here, a lot of people from the area look for jobs. Mayor Copeland hopes to have more people move to East Chicago and to get hired in East Chicago,” said DarwinPW Realty Principal Edward C. Wabick, SIOR.
“This will bring good-paying jobs to the community through something that was previously abandoned. There are a lot of possibilities here,” said DarwinPW Realty Associate Marc Hale.
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland shared that while this property is now packed with potential, it had previously sat vacant for many years.
Back in the ‘50s through the early ‘70s, the industrial property originally housed a company that made large, iron valves. When these valves were replaced by automatic alternatives, the property shut down.
After the shutdown of the original property, a company called Components, which made wooden trusts for roofs, took up residence at the property. Because that was in the days before pre-treated lumber, Components used a product called creosote to make the lumber moisture resistant. However, once creosote was discovered to cause cancer, Components closed and needed to be remediated.
The property then sat vacant for many years until the original owner, Nick Gilbert, purchased the property once again and was encouraged by the city to reach out to LCEA to give the property new life and purpose.
“We were able to coach Nick through the process, make sure he met the right people, and work with his lawyer groups,” said LCEA Vice President of Economic Development Don Koliboski. “We went door to door to all these houses in the neighborhood and told them what the intentions were for this property. We also worked through the process of handling zoning approval and tax incentives. Now, we are attracting a company or two or three to become this building’s tenants.”
With over 100 companies having already expressed interest in the 4400 Homerlee property, LCEA President & CEO Karen Lauerman anticipates that the building will secure tenants as early as December.
“The industrial core in Northwest Indiana is on the move. After about 10 to 15 years of educating the Chicagoland and Midwest brokers and developers, they are finally seeing that there is an opportunity to capitalize on all of the bells and whistles that Indiana has to offer," Lauerman said. "That includes proximity to East Chicago and access to infrastructure. This is huge not just for East Chicago, but also for Lake County because it means that there's somewhere for people to move, and they don't have to wait two years to move in. The building is ripe and ready to go.”
All entities involved in the development of the 4400 Homerlee Ave. property take pride in the building and know it will bring people and prosperity to East Chicago.
“The previous structure here was an eyesore, and it took up almost this whole block,” Copeland said. “When these groups came and told me what they were going to do, they did not disappoint. You can’t beat the color combination; it's a nice, handsome building. Now, jobs are coming, and we look forward to it. Like a phoenix, it made the whole neighborhood rise.”
For more information about Lake County Indiana Economic Alliance, visit lcea.us.