A Chicago-based real estate developer has plans for a mostly defunct shopping center in Merrillville, including the construction of a $50 million, high-end apartment complex. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report Weiss Entities LLC has approached the town with plans to redevelop the Merrill Point Shopping Center, which has been predominately vacant since 2017.

The developer says it would need to tear down the plaza to make room for the 320-unit apartment complex.

“We’re pleased to have come up with a plan to turn it from what is a blighted project to what will be, without a doubt, the finest multifamily development in Lake County,” said Don Weiss, president of Weiss Entities.

The property near 93rd Avenue and Taft Street would be adjacent to the existing Prairie Point apartments, which are also owned by Weiss Entities.

The publication says Weiss is seeking support from the city in terms of the creation of a tax increment financing district and the approval of an economic development bond issue. The project also needs approval from the plan commission and town council.

Weiss says the plan is to demolish the shopping complex this year and start construction of the new buildings in 2022. The publication says Dollar General and Goodwill properties are not owned by Weiss, and they will not be demolished.