LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- A new apartment and retail development is one step closer to coming to downtown Lafayette. On Tuesday developers took a step towards construction by agreeing to buy the air space above an alley.
The multi-story building, Nova Tower, will be unique to the area. The main investor in the project is a Purdue graduate from overseas who says he wanted to give back to the community that gave him a multitude of opportunities.
The 16.8-million-dollar development will have 76 units and 6,000 square feet of retail space which has already been rented out. The retail space will be home to Anytime Fitness. The main investor said he wanted to create a development unlike anything else in the downtown Lafayette area.
"I wanted to create something that was different from anything else,” said Rick Li the primary Investor of the Nova Tower. “I wanted it to be different than anything that was here and over there across the river. Over there it's small and expensive I wanted to create something bigger that is better quality."
Local business owners, like Pat James of Lafayette Auto Supply, say they think the development is good for the area. But that it will likely change their overall business plan.
"Everything has been paid off for years it's dry, it's inexpensive and the taxes are good so we really were in no hurry to leave this area,” said Pat James the Vice President of Lafayette Warehouse. “This new development may be something that accelerates the process for us getting out."
The new development has changed things for the business already. They use to get bring their shipments fo the warehouse in through the alleyway next to their stores. Now, they have to use the street because the development has shut down the alleyway. Despite the changes, they say they welcome the development to the area. They just hope when a developer offers to buy their lot, it will be a fair offer.
"Nobody is upset about anything,” added James. “We would just like to see us possibly get compensated for the properties that we have to move into a different location and just not have to spend a whole bunch of money to stay competitive."
As for Li, he says he wanted to invest in a community that he felt invested in him.
"People ask me why here and it's because I graduated from Purdue I know the area and my money will make sense here,” said Li. “It does not make sense to invest in New York or Chicago. I will not make a difference there but I can make a difference here."
Li says he is dedicating the development to his grandfather who always encouraged him to give back to communities they considered home. The Nova Tower Development is expected to break ground in early 2020 and be finished in the summer of 2021.
The proposed development will be located on the west side of the 200 block of S 4th Street which is just south of Lafayette Auto Supply and north of the Knights of Columbus.