Denise Mathews, Realtor, is a Northwest Indiana born, raised, and lifelong resident and multiple business owner. Join her in exploring The Region thru the Northwest Indiana Living website & social media sites.

The City of Hammond is experiencing a revitalization in the making, with new community resources, schools, businesses, and development coming to the area. But as you drive down Hohman Avenue and see the road blocks, you might be asking yourself “What are they building in downtown Hammond Indiana?”

Well, it’s downtown Hammond’s turn to get the much-needed renovation attention, before it is too late. Mayor McDermott has led a team to put together a downtown Hammond Indiana revitalization plan to save this historic area: The Downtown Hammond Master Plan.

This Downtown Master Plan aims to continue Hammond’s revitalization momentum by implementing a live, work, play strategy in the downtown area that will help breathe new life into downtown for many years to come. A prosperous sustainable community is the end goal.

Here is an artist’s rendering of what the Downtown Hammond Indiana area could look like after all the revitalization projects are complete, including a new train station. The work has already started…

Depiction-of-Downtown-Hammond-Indiana-after- Downtown-Hammond-Master-Plan-comes-to-fruition

All Renderings Credit: City Of Hammond Website from Downtown Master Plan

The Master Plan was designed by city planner Jeff Speck and Associates. His proven strategies such as improving pedestrian access and safety, developing adaptive reuse to save historical buildings, and improving safety for bicycles (plus so much more) have already had great success in turning around outdated downtown areas of other similar-sized cities.

Jeff Specks Master Plan Presentation

Master Plan Fosters A Vibrant Downtown Business District With Mixed-Use Development

The City of Hammond’s vision is to revitalize the downtown area by ultimately bringing people back into the area to live. The first step is to make the city’s center more walkable and we see evidence of that work going on right now with roadwork being reconfigured. Affordable residential housing is also being developed. An Arts Community will continue to be nurtured.

Eventually,  the new West Lake Corridor of The South Shore Train will build a downtown stop at Russell Street, making it convenient for Millennials with great Chicago jobs to live more affordably in NW Indiana. More housing will be developed. Empty nesters will be drawn to the possibilities of auto-less living also.

As more and more people live in the area, businesses and residential developers will follow and cater to the growing population. They’ll eat at these local restaurants and cafes, shop at the local boutique, and enjoy a vibrant new live, work, play community.

The Downtown Hammond Master Plan lays out the steps to get there in three multi-year phases: Before The Train; The Train; and After The Train.

Master Plan Phase 1: Before The Train

If people are going to come back into the area, the streets must first be walkable. Traffic must be slowed down so people will be safer. The first phase of The Downtown Hammond Master Plan addresses this foundational issue and work has already begun on the streets in the immediate downtown area.

At the same time, the vacant old buildings and open, deserted spaces do not provoke a feeling of safety either and are actively being developed into much-needed residential housing.

Phase-1-of-the-Downtown-Hammond-Indiana-revitalization-plan
  • Walkable Streets And Safety Are Key To Successful Downtown Hammond Indiana Revitalization

Downtown Hohman Avenue simply has too many lanes for the amount of traffic. Studies prove that open road feeling invites excessive speeding. It’s an invitation to an awful accident and nobody wants to live, stop or shop in the middle of that!

So the first step of the Master Plan has already begun – taking the 5-lane wide speedway known as Hohman Avenue down to one slower, safer lane each way. This leaves room to build angled parking in the center strip, parallel parking to the right of each lane, plus shared bike paths.

Street trees will also be added along Hohman which also promotes a safer, more welcoming downtown that people will love to live, work or play in. Auxillary streets will be re-striped to reduce unneeded lanes, turn one-ways into safer two-way streets, and add parking and bike paths.

Hohman Avenue at Sibley, looking south, Nov 2022 and after renovations

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Photo Credit: Denise Mathews with NWIndianaLiving.com

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The speedy bend is also being taken out of Rimbach Street connecting it to Fayette Street. Both streets will be separated and T-road into Hohman Ave as they originally were. This will also slow down traffic and prepare the area for an integral part of the modern live, work, play revitalization – Rimbach Plaza.

The rendering above shows the new Hohman Ave intersection at Sibley Ave. To the right you’ll see that the old parking lot has been replaced by the new mixed-use development – Rimbach Square.

  • Increased Affordable Housing Brings People Back

While the downtown streets are being re-striped and reconfigured to make them much safer for pedestrians and cyclists as we speak, developers are working towards increasing affordable housing. Rimbach Square is a major piece of Phase 1 of the downtown Hammond revitalization plan.

Rendering of Rimbach Plaza, bordered by Sibley, Hohman, and Rimach

Rimbach_Plaza_Hammond_Indiana_artistic_rendering

Rendering Credit: American Structurepoint 

The entire Rimbach Plaza will be built in the empty parking lot between Sibley St. and the straightened-out Rimbach St. The mixed-use development will have businesses at street level, along with the beautiful Rotunda Fountain community area. Rimbach Square Apartments will be built above, with a private courtyard.

These apartments alone will add over 200 residential units to the downtown area. Another mixed-use building will be built across the street during Phase 1 to complete the new look of this Plaza corner.

Madison Lofts is also being currently developed at the NE corner of Hohman and Sibley, adding 54 more residential units.

  • Saving Hammond’s Historic Buildings Thru Adaptive Re-Use

One of the best things about older cities are the old buildings. But as the malls of the 60’s and 70’s killed off Hammond’s once vibrant downtown shopping district, the century-old buildings have been falling into decay.

The Downtown Hammond Master Plan promotes working cooperatively with developers to take these remaining historic buildings and redevelop them into mixed-use buildings, with both retail and residential spaces. This is called adaptive reuse and is a big part of saving the history of downtown Hammond Indiana.

The Bank Calumet Building is already being developed into 100 residential units and should be a beautiful touchstone to the grandeur of Hammond past.

PIMA Building

PIMA-Building-in-downtown-Hammond-Indiana-is-an-important-historical-building

Bank Calumet

Bank-Calumet-in-downtown-Hammond-Indiana-is being-redeveloped-as-residences

LaSalle Hotel

LaSalle-Hotel-in-downtown-Hammond-Indiana-will-be-saved-in-the downtown-Hammond-Indiana-revitalization-Master-Plan.

Photo Credits: Denise Mathews with NWIndianaLiving.com

  • Improving Bicycling Infrastructure In Downtown Hammond IN

Making the downtown area safer and more convenient for cyclists to utilize downtown is an important objective of the downtown Hammond Master Plan. The Hammond roads have already been restriped to allow for dedicated bike lanes on secondary streets. Shared bike lanes are coming to the Hohman Avenue restructure.

When the train station comes to the area, bicycles will become even more important. Cycling to the train station to go to work in Chicago, and having everything you need within walking distance when you take the train home to NW Indiana will complete the live, work, play trifecta. Cars could actually become options and not necessities as local transportation by bicycle becomes easier and safer.

  • Arts Area Enhanced To Bring People Together and Support The Arts Community

Downtown Hammond Indiana already has an arts presence in The Region with various art studios and Towle Theater. The Hammond revitalization plan will make room to promote the arts by creating a dedicated Arts Alley.

Arts Alley will be bursting with color as local artwork is encouraged to decorate the alley side of these buildings. Rowhouses near Arts Alley will be built a few years from now to specifically attract artists to live, work, and play right here in downtown Hammond Indiana.

Arts Alley, behind Hohman Avenue at Sibley

Arts-Alley-in-Downtown-Hammond-Indiana-revitalization-plan

Master Plan Phase 2: The Train

The South Shore Train Line is expanding south and building a Russell Street downtown Hammond stop on the new West Lake Corridor Train. While it won’t be in the initial set of four new NW Indiana South Shore stations, this important stop should be built in the next 5 years and usher in Phase 2.

The train station is a major component to the success of the downtown Hammond revitalization.

The new station will also hail in more new residential development, a new road, and community green space as the revitalization work travels south and east of the Phase 1 work.

Phase-2-of-the-Downtown-Hammond-Master-Plan
  • West Lake Corridor Train Stop Integral In Downtown Hammond Indiana Revitalization 

When the original West Lake Corridor Project is finished in 2025, the South Shore Line southern extension will connect with the original South Shore Train running from South Bend to Chicago. A new Hammond Gateway Station serves as a connection hub to the original South Shore Line, just north of the downtown area on Sheffield Ave. Three other stations (South Hammond, Munster, and Dyer) will complete the West Lake Corridor train line.

However, you’ll notice there is no downtown Hammond stop on that list of 4 new train stops from Chicago (or South Bend)… yet.

The-new-West-Lake-Corridor-Train-Line-and-South-Shore-double-track-improvement

Graphic Credit: NICTD 

But there is an additional stop in the works! A stop at Russell Street was fought hard for by Mayor McDermott, citing its integral positioning in the revitalization of downtown Hammond. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District agreed, and the additional stop is coming to Russell Street in downtown Hammond IN in about 5 years!

West Lake Train Stop In Downtown Hammond Indiana Makes Area A True Subdivision Of Chicago

The big benefit of the West Lake Corridor expansion all the way down to Dyer Indiana is that it conveniently connects Chicago to some populous cities and towns in Northwest Indiana. This coincides perfectly with the Downtown Hammond Master Plan.

The live, work, play environment of Phase 1 and 2 downtown renovations are exactly how the largest home-buying sector today (Millenials) want to live. Lower Indiana taxes and home prices, along with just a half hour train ride should attract these professional, Chicago-employed Millenials into downtown Hammond’s newest condo-style urban living.

Bringing Chicago wages into NW Indiana residential areas, restaurants, and business is just what downtown Hammond IN, as well as the entire Region, needs to grow in the 21st century. The new Russell Street South Shore stop truly makes downtown Hammond a Chicago suburb.

  • New Open Spaces Near Train Station Add To A Greener, Welcoming Environment

As the area near the new train station is developed during Phase 2 of the Downtown Master Plan, an additional community area will be built – Station Square. This lush space will be directly across from the train station.

Phase 2, projected to be completed during the late 2020’s, will bring the downtown Hammond revitalization thru more of the downtown area into Russell St.

Station Square between Fayette and Russell

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  • More Residential Developments Near Train Station

Walkable access to the easy train to Chicago now brings the work portion of the live, work, play model to life. Compounding off the new residences of Phase 1, more residential development will be built around the new train station.  

Both sides of Russell Street near the station will have mixed-use buildings. Fayette St and a new connector road in front of the station will also see new development.  The plan is to fill all this new housing with professional, high earners who prefer urban lifestyle and work in Chicago but live (and spend their money) in downtown Hammond.

New mixed-use buildings along Russell St at train station

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Master Plan Phase 3: After The Train

After all the Phase 1 and 2 work is completed and the train has come to downtown Hammond Indiana, then it’s time to fill in the cracks. Phase 3 involves spreading the improvements even further south and east.

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  • Hohman Avenue Remodel Continues South

The street trees and landscaping improvements on Hohman Avenue will continue further south in Phase 3 past Condit St. Eventually after all these fast-growing trees fill in, a tree canopy overhead will make the Hohman Avenue drive, and walk, a beauty.

  • More Residential And Retail Development Spreads Further Around Downtown

As the downtown Hammond revitalization takes hold during the first 2 phases of the master plan, both commercial and residential developers will be clamoring to be involved. Their efforts will finish off the downtown Hammond Indiana revitalization project in about 10 years.

Row housing is planned to fill in the gaps along the State Street and Sibley Street areas, bringing improvements east. Phase 3 also concentrates on bringing the plan further south where more residences will be developed, for a total of over 1100 units of new housing within 10-year span of the entire Downtown Hammond Master Plan.

Don’t Miss This Opportunity To Take Advantage Of The Downtown Hammond Turnaround

The downtown Hammond revitalization, and new train station, should bring an increase in home values in the area. There is an opportunity here in real estate to buy homes at today’s prices, spruce them up and enjoy the future upswing. 

Conclusion

Hammond’s own Field of Dreams can certainly share the tagline: Build it and they will come. Bring people back into downtown and the businesses will follow.

Save the old buildings and Hammond’s grand history in the process. Add the new train that brings Chicago that much closer and it makes downtown Hammond’s new live, work, play community so attractive to live in.

The future is green, less cars, more bikes, more walking. The future is bringing some of Chicago’s wealth over into Northwest Indiana. Downtown Hammond Indiana is poised perfectly to ride the wave of the future all the way back to its former glory!

 

people in a row representing Northwest Indiana Communities uniting together