Elkhart council approves remaining funding for Shoppes on Six

ELKHART, Ind. -- Elkhart's city council approved the remaining $1.5 million in funding for a major retail development Monday night.

The Shoppes on Six will sit at the intersection of C.R. 6 and Cassopolis Street and include several retail stores and restaurant chains.

The shopping center will cost developer Thompson Thrift about $17 million. Last year, the city agreed to contribute $3 million for the project through a loan and bond issues.

"This is one of the largest commercial developments we've seen in Elkhart in some time," said Councilman Brian Dickerson. "I, myself, cannot think of another project of this magnitude."

Dickerson says that makes the investment worthwhile for Elkhart. It will eventually mean more tax revenue and could cause additional growth in the area.

"My hope is that we will also see, because people are seeing an investment in the city on C.R. 6, that additional investors will look at the area, recognize the traffic flow, recognize how important it is to invest in the area, so that we can bring more people in," he said.

But, Councilman David Henke voted against the proposal to invest the remaining $1.5 million in the project. He's concerned about the plan to pay it all back using tax increment financing revenues from the Cassopolis TIF.

"Why do we have to incentivize with the use of TIF dollars?" Henke said. "$1.5 million forgivable loan paid back by TIF. Meanwhile, the schools are crying for funding and all of this money Elkhart city pushes toward TIFs for private use holds money away from other taxing units."

A Verizon Wireless store is already complete at the shopping site and a second, multi-tenant building is well on its way. Shoe Carnival, Ross Dress for Less and PetSmart have all signed on to be anchor stores.

Construction on the next phase of the project will start in June or July. Thompson Thrift hopes to have the shopping center complete in the summer of 2015.

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