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Big Lots to open furniture distribution center in Merrillville

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Screenshot From Merrillville YouTube Video
Merrillville Economic Development Director Angie Chilcott and Sean Andrews with Crow Holdings announce the new Big Lots distribution center to the town council on Mar. 22.

A Big Lots distribution center is coming to Merrillville. The retailer has secured a lease with Crow Holdings for a 261,000-square-foot shell building in AmeriPlex at the Crossroads on Georgia Street.

Sean Andrews with Crow Holdings told the town council Tuesday that it will serve as a forward distribution center for Big Lots' furniture line, at a time when the company is looking to expand. "Merrillville's been a great place. We're getting great feedback from the brokerage community. So we couldn't be more happy to deliver another quality tenant to this town," Andrews said.

Big Lots said in a statement that the company "is thrilled to join the Merrillville community with our newest forward distribution center, which will support the company’s retail stores in the Midwest. As our retail store footprint continues to grow, the Merrillville forward distribution center will play an important role in helping us maintain same-day availability of the quality furniture that our customers know and love." Big Lots representatives did not immediately know when the facility would open or how many people it would employ.

Andrews said Crow invested about $21.5 million to construct the shell building and plans to spend another $2 million to build out an office and bring the building to Big Lots' specifications. "Typically, we expect these tenants to come in about 12 months post-delivery, so getting that tenant in there before we even deliver the building further proves out our concept of wanting to be here in Merrillville," Andrews added.

It's the second shell building in the AmeriPlex industrial park to be occupied. Now, Andrews said Crow is looking to build custom facilities for businesses on the development's remaining property. But if those opportunities don't materialize in the next month, the company would build another 150,000-square-foot speculative building.

But not everyone was happy with the AmeriPlex development. Resident Bryon Mesarch questioned the warehouses' benefit to local residents.

"We're building at a rapid pace. You know what is not out in the panhandle? A fire station for when these warehouses might have an issue or a police station, so people out that way could have emergency services a little quicker," Mesarch said during the public comment portion of Tuesday's council meeting.

Town Manager Pat Reardon said the town is already looking into a new police and fire station, as part of Crowe's next industrial park along Mississippi Street. "In talking with the police department and I know from conversations with the fire department, to be south of 30 makes and awful lot of sense. It'll cut down the response time," he said.

Reardon said that the public safety facility would not only serve the two industrial parks but also possibly future development between Mississippi and Colorado.