Planned Demolition in La Porte

The NWI Times reports that a historic church in La Porte, Indiana is going to be demolished sometime this month. While we typically limit ourselves to Lake County, we begrudgingly concede that there is a world that exists outside Lake County, and, as a sworn protectors of urban density, it’s hard to ignore the conversion of another Midwestern downtown into… parking lots?

The church, whose congregation was formed in 1867 and which was built in 1893, is a beautiful landmark of a city sporting a typical square with a Richardsonianian Romanesque courthouse and a mess of modern architecture, notably the hospital in whose shadow the church sits. While the notion of tearing down the church for additional parking is mere speculation at this point, we did a cursory exercise below identifying all of the parking lots surrounding the church:

la porte map

Especially considering all of the parking, it seems like a no-brainer to keep the church, but at an assessed value of $373,600, that’s not small potatoes for a cash-strapped congregation. A $373,600 assessment in Lake County would be a somewhat nebulous, pie-in-the-sky number, but in La Porte, it’s fair to say that assessments are levied much closer to their realistic appraisal value than in the distressed areas of Lake (respectively an 11% poverty rate in La Porte versus 25.8% in Gary, 24.4% in East Chicago, and 14.3% in Hammond).

Pavey Excavating is waiting on a demolition permit, and Mayor Blair Milo says it’s a shame, but what’s a Mayor to do? Me, I suggest a bistro/brewery featuring New Indiana Cuisine to cater to visitors and staff at the hospital. Surely we could rally support. Kickstarter? Who’s in? •nmz

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Nat M. Zorach, AICP is a city planner, community development professional, and MBA candidate at American University's Kogod School of Business, based in Detroit.

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