MICHIGAN CITY — The proposed $240 million SoLa development project will bring to downtown Michigan City condos, retail, restaurants and two hotels with a rooftop deck and sweeping views of Lake Michigan.

Indianapolis-based developer Tom Dakich, who also helped bring the Digital Crossroad data center to the Hammond lakefront, said his latest development planned for the South Shore of Lake Michigan aims to be transformative. YAB Development Partners and Farpoint Development/Decennial Group are looking to break ground on the blockbuster commercial development project later this year.

Because of the project, Dakich said, "Michigan City won't be the same in five years."

The 628,000-square-foot mixed-use development will be located on the 100 block of West Michigan Boulevard at the "You Are Beautiful" site just south of the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

The land was once home to the city's police station and the newsroom of the then-Michigan City News-Dispatch, now known as the LaPorte County Herald-Dispatch. The property is now vacant except for the landmark "You Are Beautiful" sculpture, with six-foot-tall steel letters by the Chicago artist Michael Hoffman.

The SoLa development will include two hotels: Trademark Collection by Wyndham and TRYP by Wyndham. The Trademark Collection hotel will be more upscale while TRYP will be a more affordable option, so it will serve different demographics, Dakich said.

"We want to bring in people from Illinois and Michigan to visit the national park and stay as opposed to driving through," he said.

The project, initially announced by the Michigan City Economic Development Corp. last fall, originally had just one hotel. It will now have 235 rooms in a hotel tower with a rooftop deck.

The hotel tower is expected to stand 12 stories tall and the condo tower 10 stories tall.

"It's going to have wonderful sight lines where you can see the Chicago skyline," Dakich said. "We're blessed with great geography."

SoLa also will have 145 luxury condos in a second tower, 19 duplex homes and 27,000 square feet of retail space that could include a grocery store and urgent care clinic. It will be home to several restaurants, including fast-casual restaurants and at least one upscale eatery. Dakich said it would likely be a local upscale restaurant from either the Region or Chicago.

The downtown development also will offer several outdoor amenities and a 395-space parking garage.

Dakich estimates the project will have an economic impact of $679.2 million over the next 15 years, including $10 million a year in tourist spending. It's expected to create about 292 full-time jobs and about 800 total jobs, including seasonal jobs during the summer tourist season.

It's a short walk from the beach and other Washington Park attractions along the Lake Michigan lakefront. It's also a quick walk from the South Shore Line commuter railroad station.

"This would not be happening without the double-tracking project," Dakich said. "Michigan City is a great place and double-tracking is going to make it much more accessible. We believe people are going to live in Michigan City and work in downtown Chicago."

The hope is to lure about 100,000 hotel guests a year to the attractions like the Indiana Dunes National Park, the Washington Park Zoo, the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets and the Blue Chip Casino.

"We've now got the national park we believe is going to draw more people," Dakich said. "We want people from Chicago to stop here and stay instead of passing through to Southwest Michigan. We want them to live here and commute or get a second home here."

The plan is for it to be open by mid-2024.
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