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Location is reason for denial of funds to Vincennes Steak ‘n Shake 

The Steak 'n Shake being constructed on Hart Street is outside the TIF zone.
The Steak 'n Shake being constructed on Hart Street is outside the TIF zone.

The Steak ‘n Shake being constructed on Hart Street is outside the TIF zone.

By Sabrina Westfall

The Vincennes Redevelopment Commission (RDC) denied a monetary request from the developers of the new Steak ‘n Shake on Hart Street.

Dave Niehaus went before the board to request assistance with two curb cuts at a cost of $17,815 each and two large retention ponds behind the business at a cost of $38,240.

They requested 50 percent of the total cost at $36,935.

Board member Tim Smith said the new business is going to be an asset to the city, but a conversation with the State Board of Accounts shows the RDC does not have the authority to provide funding to the private entity.

In addition, Councilwoman Beth Meeks reached out to city attorney Dave Roellgan, who explained the biggest issue is the establishment sits outside of the TIF Zone.

RDC president Brad Dale added  it is also outside of the city limits so any taxes would be paid to the county.

Board member Marc McNeece referenced a project the RDC did in the past to develop Ford Road for a private entity.

Board president Brad Dale noted the difference with that project was the city had already acquired the piece of road they developed.

Several members of the RDC stressed they are very supportive of the new business, but it appeared they were not legally able to provide funding to the project.

Tim Smith made the motion to deny the request. The motion passed with a 4 to 1 vote. McNeece cast the dissenting vote.

Dale noted the establishment should come back before the RDC if the area around the Steak ‘n Shake is annexed into the city.

Paul Yochum with Westport Auto came before the board to request a road extension from Ford Road behind Kohls to Hart Street.

Westport Auto is looking to build a state of the art Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram facility on a 10.43 acre piece of land next to Kohls. The cost of the project is estimated to be between $2.5 million to $3 million, but the issue with the road stands in the way.

The city would need right of way to work with the road. Yochum said he is working with the current owners of the road to possibly turn over to the city for development.

Another issue the Yochums have come across is a storm water drain that would either need moved or closed because it empties onto the land area.

Yochum said the business would be beneficial to the community and gave a comparison to another business that recently moved to the area.

He said the average Kohls brings in $16 million annual, with 35 employees and a payroll of $800,000.

Westport Auto grossed $26 million last year, with 28 full time employees and $1.4 million in payroll.

McNeece and Dale agreed to form a development committee to look further into the issue.

City Engineer John Sprague said the city-wide paving project is about 50 percent complete. The ADA accessible ramps on Eberwine and Chestnut are complete, and moving forward.

Sprague said there has been some confusion with the lights change to a two way stop on 6th and Busseron and four way stop on 7th and Busseron. He said he hopes once the lights are actually removed after the study people will have a better understanding.

The Second Street Project is moving forward. Sprague said he had a meeting with INDOT on Thursday. They are also working on getting permanent right of way on seven areas and several dozen partial rights of way.

The board voted to approve a bid from Wabash Utilities up to $17,385 to fix the storm sewer trench issue on Kimmell Road. Sprague said he believes the issue is a compaction failure.

The total cost of the project will be contingent upon if the Board of Works approves a full road closure during the work. Sprague said the full road closure will be more time and cost efficient.

The board voted to hire city attorney Dave Roellgan to serve as the RDC’s counsel at the rate of $200 per hour.

The RDC will meet again Sept. 18 at 9 a.m.