New shopping could be heading to Elkhart

Plans are underway for a new retail development in Elkhart. The Shoppes on 6 would include namebrand stores like TJ Maxx, Pet Smart and Shoe Carnvial.

The developer, Thompson Thrift, has been working with the city for over a year to make the project happen. It's actually an expansion from an existing property, a Verizon Wireless, off County Road 6.

The shopping center was approved at Tuesday night's re-development commission, but that was just the first of three approvals necessary to move forward. They're still hoping to gain approval from the city council and the economic development commission.

If approved, the agreement states Thompson Thrift can break ground before the end of the year.

"In reality, everyone is very hopeful to see some dirt being moved yet this summer," said Economic Development Director, Barkley Garrett.

It's a $13.5 million project, and the city is assisting in the construction. Elkhart will contribute $3 million in bonds and loans once the retail space is 75% pre-leased.

"This is a great opportunity. This is a corner of our community that has been under-developed for quite some time. It's a gateway to our community, it's right as you get off of our toll road. We have hundreds of thousands of visitors passing by this corner," said Garrett.

And even though the development is likely to bring in new restaurants too, area retailers say they aren't concerned about competition.

"It will give customers more options, more choices. And anytime there are more choices, more customers it's a positive impact on all of us," said neighbor to the new outlet and Chubby Trout owner, Cam Snyder.

"More restaurants in the area will draw more traffic, and more choices for more guests. I think it will attract travelers off the 80/90 turnpike to stop at exit 92 also," said Snyder.

Garrett says he hopes the plan will make it in front of the city council by February 4.

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