MERRILLVILLE - An executive helping drive a more than $350 million development planned in northwest Indiana likens the potential of The Farm at Crossroad Commons to "a mini-Amazon deal." Merrillville-based White Lodging Investments and Development Division Chief Executive Officer Deno Yiankes says the proposal, which includes multiple hotels, entertainment and conference venues and residential space near I-65 and U.S. 30, will transform the area that used to be home to the Star Plaza Theatre and Radisson Hotel. If the mostly privately-funded project moved forward as planned, White Lodging says it would lead to more than 600 construction jobs and over 1,000 permanent jobs.

The economic and quality-of-life impact on the region, Yiankes says, would last for decades. "We simply don't know of any other opportunity in our generational lifeline that's going to come like this to the region," he said to Inside INdiana Business. Plans call for a combination of funds from multiple White family foundations, local lenders and private contributors to cover two-thirds of the massive pricetag. The rest, if it falls into place, would come from local, county and state sources. "We believe the project itself is so compelling that we're optimistic that they're going to see the ultimate value, because the payback of the support that they would be providing is, you know, over 100-to-1, and it doesn't take 20 years for them to receive that payback, the payback will start in year one."

Yiankes says he thinks The Farm at Crossroad Commons will offer a development mix unlike anything in the state or even the Midwest. Plans for the 40-acre development include:

  • Four hotels of various pricing levels
  • Meeting, event and conference center with exhibit hall space
  • Facilities for a brewery and several restaurants
  • Greenhouse
  • Horseriding arena
  • Wellness center
  • Office space
  • Large ballroom
  • Art galleries

The site, which currently includes the golden-colored Twin Towers office buildings that are set to be removed soon, should be "shovel-ready" by year's end, Yiankes said. "This is not something that's going to be built, then have a big spike the first year and then kind of go away," he added. "We think this really could be something that has a lot of traction beyond the development itself." Construction could begin in the second half of next year and full build-out, Yiankes estimates, could take three years.

View renderings and further details of the project: