Union 12, a reception hall in Whitley County, will likely soon have a counterpart in northern Allen County.

Forged Union, a 22,000-square-foot event center, is part of the primary development plan for a commercial development known as Providence Place, which is planned for an 85-acre plot of land at the southeast corner of Union Chapel and Diebold roads in Perry Township.

Tom Niezer, an attorney with Barrett and McNagny representing developer GJHL Properties, presented the plans during an Allen County Plan Commission public hearing Nov. 12. Of the 85 total acres planned for development, 37 were rezoned in 2014 from agricultural use to NC Neighborhood Center. The developer is currently requesting rezoning of the remaining 47 acres to the east.

“We believe this is the highest and best use of the property,” Niezer said. “Agricultural use is not a good use for this property at this point, let alone residential use given the amount of commercial use that is occurring up along Diebold Road.”

The proposed reception hall will be owned by Forged Union LLC, a partnership between GJHL and Union 12, a company that operates a similar facility in Columbia City off U.S. 30, just north of Steel Dynamics. Union 12 is owned by John Sommer, Nate Norris, Silas Norris and Jonathan Webber of Fort Wayne.

“They’ve been operating that facility for over six years now. They’re well-seasoned, know what they’re doing, and they see this opportunity as the right expansion into the Allen County market and in a location where this type of facility is really needed, both for corporate events that will accommodate Parkview Health, as well as individual and personal events for weddings and similar types of receptions,” Niezer said.

The venue will be able to accommodate about 400 individuals at a time, and will include a private room on a partial second floor.

Lincolnshire Place Memory Care and the Centennial Highlands subdivision are to the south of the property. The property will be accessible only from Diebold Road. The property behind the reception hall is owned by ACRES Land Trust, a nonprofit organization out of Huntertown that maintains preserves throughout the region.

“What’s really nice about this site, we believe, is that there is a lot of ample, open room for events that can accommodate both an indoor and outdoor type of atmosphere,” Niezer said. “… We’re really excited about this proposed development for this land. It is one of the last significantly sized tracts of land up near Parkview off of Diebold, and we’re taking that land and trying to develop it in a way that is not only supportive of the uses that are there — both residential, medical — but also to provide something new to the area that isn’t there already, and that starts with the Forged Union concept.”

Niezer said the plan is to eventually sell the land as seven separate tracts for different uses. He did not disclose plans for other businesses on the property, however, a winery has been added to the list of permitted uses. A written commitment submitted to the county includes plans to establish uniform architectural standards for the entire 85 acres, “making it an integrated development,” Niezer said.

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