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St. John considering vacant land for riverfront district

image of white river

Creating a riverfront district would allow for more local restaurants. (Zach Herndon, WFIU/WTIU News)

Officials in a northwestern Indiana city are considering a possible riverfront district designation for a stretch of vacant land to attract restaurants and other development.

The St. John Town Council was told this week during a meeting that businesses could include restaurants with outdoor dining, a banquet hall and possibly a boutique hotel, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported Saturday.

But more liquor licenses are needed, according to one official.

The number of liquor licenses in each municipality is determined by the state based on population. Town Councilman Mike Aurelio said St. John is out of those licenses, meaning the only way new restaurants can obtain them is by purchasing them from other businesses at prices as high as $500,000.

However, if the area were to be declared a riverfront district, liquor licenses would be unlimited and would cost a standard price of $1,000.

Creating a riverfront district would allow for more local restaurants, and the new businesses could even be topped with office space, Aurelio said.

The next step will be crafting an ordinance designating the area a riverfront district, according to the newspaper.

Aurelio estimates it will take about four months for the ordinance to cycle through the town’s various committees, before going to the state for approval.

St. John is south of Hammond and east of the state line with Illinois.

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