Artist Jessica Haug paints an outdoor mural on Highway Avenue. Staff photo by Tony V. Martin
Artist Jessica Haug paints an outdoor mural on Highway Avenue. Staff photo by Tony V. Martin
Synergy is on the agenda in Highland. The town council, Highland Main Street, the Highland-Griffith Chamber of Commerce, and the development and redevelopment commissions have worked together to bring in new businesses through grants, tax increment financing incentives, artistic attractions, and financial programs.

Down on Main Street

Formed in 2011, Highland Main Street is the local chapter of the Indiana Main Street program, designed to turn downtowns into destinations.

“We have three murals painted on the sides of buildings to help welcome people to our community,” said Steve Wagner, town council president. “The Main Street group has done quite a lot to make our downtown attractive and inviting.”

In 2016 and 2017, Main Street worked with the redevelopment commission and the Highland Community Foundation to secure grants to create wall murals. Located on Highway Avenue and Jewett Street, the three murals are interpretations of South Shore posters Moonlight in Duneland, Beyond the Borders, Homeward Bound, and Spring in the Dunes.

A new downtown business, Pramuk Dental Center, is opening at 2706 Highway Ave. “We worked with them financially to help make moving here an attractive alternative,” Wagner said. “We were able to offer a tax abatement that helped make the relocation possible.”

Senior housing

The Russell Group, an Iowa developer headquartered, will build a senior housing facility on 19-plus acres between Kleinman Road and Cline Avenue.

“The land purchase is official,” Wagner said. “The planning stage is underway, and we’re looking forward to offering seniors a great place to live as they age.”

The plan is to have at least 70 independent-living apartments with full kitchens, in-unit laundry and garage options. There will be 50-60 assisted-living apartments with kitchenettes and laundry, and 18-20 apartments to accommodate those who need memory care.

“The plans also call for amenities such as a game room, a salon/barber shop, a bistro, a wellness center, and a café,” Wagner said. “The idea is to have everything in the complex and within walking distance.”

The town council, economic development and redevelopment commissions will be involved in planning and permits.

Paving the way

With help from the $1.8 million awarded from the Community Crossings Matching Grant Program, the town will undertake major road improvements the rest of the year.

Among them, the downtown stretch of Highway Avenue will be resurfaced from Ridge Road east to Delaware Street, Wagner said. Jewett Street will be resurfaced from Kennedy Avenue to Fifth Street, and Fourth Street will get a freshening between Highway and Jewett.

Another stretch of Highway, between Cline Avenue and Liable Road, will be paved, as well as 45th Street between Fifth Place and Forrest Drive.

Chamber growing

Mary Luptak, executive director of the HighlandGriffith Chamber of Commerce, is thrilled with the increase in membership of Highland businesses. “In the past 18 months, we have more than 15 new members,” she said. “We’ve been contacting new and existing businesses to share all of the benefits that membership brings. That hard work by the chamber is paying off.”

The chamber has a Facebook page, and all members are encouraged to post news and events about their business. Some post daily menus and/or sales. “The emphasis of social media is good for a small town like Highland,” Luptak said. “It provides these small businesses the opportunity to share information without the cost of marketing.”

In addition to ribbon-cutting ceremonies and endless networking opportunities, the chamber undertakes initiatives such as the Jump Start Program. The annual fundraiser helps support Highland kindergarten and pre-k summer school programs. It also awards two $1,000 scholarships to high school graduates to help offset college costs.

Cardinal Campus taking flight

The Cardinal Campus of Highland broke ground in 2018 with a goal of completing the first three buildings for 2019 occupancy. Mission accomplished, and then some.

“The Veterinary Orthopedic Center is open in the first completed building,” said Wagner. “The veterinarian is the also the owner of the Cardinal Campus, Dr. Claude Gendreau.”

West of Main Street and Indianapolis Boulevard, Cardinal Campus is a $41.4 million project on nine acres. Bone & Joint Specialists PC and ATI Physical Therapy have moved into the second building, and Urologic Specialists of Northwest Indiana is the first occupant in the third.

“Cardinal Campus is a solid business project,” Wagner said. “Eventually, there will be eight buildings. Seven are designed for medical and business professionals, and one is planned to become a boutique hotel. We’re glad to have these commercial buildings and the businesses they bring to our town.”

Plans for the remaining two-story buildings and the hotel will come together over the next two-three years, according to Wagner. The town council committed up to $16.5 million in TIF bonds to be purchased by Gendreau throughout the development.
© Copyright 2020,, Munster, IN