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Gleason Park could bring millions to city coffers

Gary offered $9 million for Gleason Park Golf Course and Gilroy Stadium

Contributed By:The 411 News

Redevelopment Commission can't tell how land will be used

The sale of the Gleason Park Golf Course and Gilroy Stadium was approved in a special meeting of Gary's Redevelopment Commission Friday afternoon that took about 30 minutes.

Both properties were sold to Bradford Equities II LLC for a price of $9 million in a deal characterized by Redevelopment Commission President Eric Reaves as "unprecedented."

Rumors of the possible sale of the golf course have been circulated by city hall insiders over the past months this summer, but this week's presentation of a sale contract caught some commission members off guard.

Commission members Jeremiah King and Adam Hall asked to delay the vote on the contract until the next regular meeting in ten days. They wanted to know how the land will be used. The vote was 3-2, with King and Hall voting against approval.

Commissioner Hall said he first learned of the deal at 8a.m. Wednesday morning. "That is when I received a copy of the contract. It was on the agenda for Wednesday afternoon's commission meeting."

The contract was removed from Wednesday's agenda and rescheduled for Friday's special meeting after an overview by the commission's attorney. "What's the rush? I would like more time to read it because I have questions about conflicting dates," Hall said.

The meeting was held on Zoom and listening in were Gary city council members. The golf course and stadium are in Linda Barnes-Caldwell's 5th District. "I'm not going to believe someone is paying $9 million and we don't know what's going on it. What's the secret.''

Chairman Reaves said the buyer hadn't disclosed the use of the property. "All I can say is some possible uses are a distribution center and light manufacturing."

"That's a residential area. You don't do that," Barnes-Caldwell said. "The Ivanhoe area is light industrial." She was referring to the vacant site of the demolished Ivanhoe Housing Development at 11th Avenue and Chase.

Reaves response, a nod to not look a gift horse in the mouth, said the sale will be a benefit to Gary citizens. "This buyer wasn't offered any inducement. The buyer hasn't asked for an inducement. This is unprecedented. Please find me a deal that will net Gary citizens $9 million dollars."

Although Hall didn’t get his way, he summed up the deal as more than his fellow commissioners were making it out to be. “The buyer has a full out if he doesn’t get zoning and council approval. It should have been done as a letter of an intent to purchase, in my view, which is less binding. This gives the appearance of more than it is.”

At this time last year, Gary was putting together a deal on another of its landmarks, the sale leaseback of the Gary Public Safety Facility. That building, South Gleason Park, and the Genesis Center had been put up for sale during the Freeman-Wilson administration. Back then, Freeman-Wilson said the sale leaseback would give the incoming administration financial relief and a balanced budget.

So, this transaction may also be about a city administration that is again starved for cash.

Story Posted:09/04/2020

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