The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 11, 2016 11:48 am

Trine arena to get cut of state grant

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

Almost three months after approving the first local Regional Cities Initiative grant, state officials have given the green light to northeast Indiana’s second submission, officials announced Wednesday.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has approved $2.8 million for Trine University’s Angola ice hockey arena and a 3,000-seat events center. The projects’ total price tag is $18.9 million.

Trine officials requested part of the $42 million state grant despite not being included in the submission northeast Indiana officials made to the IEDC last year in hopes of winning the grant. The Road to One Million proposal was compiled with input from city, county and other leaders throughout the region.

The portfolio included 70 projects costing an estimated $1.4 billion in total investment over the next decade. If every project received 20 percent of its total cost from the Regional Cities grant, that would add up to $280 million – significantly more than the $42 million the region received. 

The first local project to win approval was the Skyline Tower, a 12-story residential building that will be constructed as part of Ash Skyline Plaza. The $44.2 million project was approved in May for a $2.8 million grant. It, too, wasn’t part of the Road to One Million, which isn’t a requirement.

Some board members of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority have expressed concern about approving projects not included in the Road to One Million plan because of the looming shortfall. Their advisers say that creating momentum with several splashy, successful projects will attract investment from other resources.

Trine’s original request was for $3.8 million, but university officials reduced it by $1 million at the Regional Development Authority’s request, said James Tew, Trine’s spokesman. He said the university will continue fundraising to make up the difference.

Trine is building a 50,000-square-foot ice rink that will be home to men’s and women’s hockey teams and have seating for 1,000 fans. The events center will be almost 75,000 square feet.

The Regional Development Authority voted June 21 to approve Trine’s request. But the state doesn’t cut a check until after IEDC staff review applications to ensure they comply with the program’s guidelines.

During that same local meeting, the board approved a $2.8 million grant toward the University of Saint Francis’s new downtown campus. But an IEDC spokeswoman said there’s no news yet on that request.

"Submitting the applications on the same day doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll move through our approval process at the same pace," Abby Gras said Wednesday in an email.

In July, the Regional Development Authority approved applications from the Embassy Theatre and the YMCA of DeKalb County. Those requests are being reviewed by the IEDC for final approval.

Officials expect to break ground on Skyline Tower in the fall. Assuming all goes well, it could open ground-floor retail spaces and upper-floor apartments next summer, with completion of the 124-apartment structure estimated for October 2018.

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