Officials from Kokomo and Henke Development break ground on Championship Park
The groundbreaking of an $86 million youth sports and commercial development project in Kokomo this week is the latest in a string of wins for the community.
City officials and representatives from Westfield-based Henke Development Group tossed the ceremonial first shovel full of dirt on Championship Park.
The development includes space for new office, retail, restaurant and hotels near U.S. 31 and Markland Avenue on the east side of the city.
In addition to the commercial development, the city is investing $11 million to build a sports complex, including eight new baseball and softball fields with artificial turf.
“Championship Park will become a destination for athletic teams from across the state and the Midwest. Just as importantly, it creates a great space for our own local teams,” said Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore.
Moore said the project will first begin with construction of the sports complex this year, with plans to open the fields next spring.
“With turf, it will allow to start playing in April or May, not having to wait for grass to get planted,” said Moore.
Henke Development Group Chief Executive Officer Steve Henke said he is excited about bringing the development to Kokomo.
“This not only brings an economic benefit to Kokomo, but it brings first-class fields,” Henke said.
Henke’s company also developed Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, a 400-acre park features 26 baseball and softball diamonds and 31 multipurpose sports fields.
Moore thinks there will be some natural synergies between the two complexes that lie just 30 miles apart.
“They saw the benefits, not only in proximity but the opportunity that Kokomo provided,” said Moore. “Tying the two together and being able to utilize the draw from Grand Park, to be a remote site, is an additional option for those tournaments.”
Moore said he expects the sports complex will also benefit the existing commercial businesses on the former U.S. 31, now known as State Road 931.
“The commercial retail, restaurants, and hotel offerings, so having that proximity to our existing, thriving corridor will give it a boost.”
Groundbreaking on the development notches another economic win for the city and for the mayor, who was just sworn into office in January. Plans for Championship Park were well underway when he took office. But as a former Howard County commissioner, Moore was familiar with the plan.
“I was in full support coming in…knowing it was something the community would benefit from,” Moore said. “I just wanted to make sure we were doing it right.”
In March, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) announced plans to collaborate with Washington-based medical device maker Ventec Life Systems to produce critical care ventilators at the GM plant in Kokomo. With a $500 million contract from the federal government, GM and Ventec said they would need to hire 1,000 workers to fulfill the order for 30,000 ventilators by August.
In January, Fiat Chrysler Automotive announced it was re-tooling its idled transmission plant in Kokomo to produce engines for Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee. The company said it was investing $400 million, creating nearly 200 jobs and retaining 1,000 more.
“It’s been a nice wave to ride despite the pandemic and quarantine we’ve had to go through,” said Moore. “And as someone who grew up here, it’s a boost to the ego for the community.”
Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore tells Inside INdiana Business the development is an ego boost for the city.