NW Indiana had a busy time last months. In downtown Michigan City, work began on a $280 million mixed-use development, and in downtown Valparaiso, work began on a $55 million project.
Crews are working toward finishing the South Shore Double Track project in the spring of 2024. This will add a second line of train tracks that will run nearly 17 miles between Gary and Michigan City, cutting travel times to Chicago by about 20 minutes. The new line is now being tested.
In an interview with Gerry Dick on Inside Indiana Business, Sherri Ziller, CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, said that it’s all part of a plan to bring the area back to life.
She said that Michigan City was ready to grow. “It’s been great to see how well they and other communities have been able to use the realignment and expansion of the rail projects, as well as the new growth that will come with it here in northwest Indiana.”
The land that used to be the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City is also ready to be turned into something new. The State Budget Committee gave $1.2 billion to the Indiana Department of Correction last month so that a new jail can be built where the old Westville Correctional Facility used to be. As part of that project, the WCF and Indiana State Prison will become one prison.
“The site is big.” It can hold much-needed low-cost housing, housing for seniors, housing for workers, and the retail and business space that Michigan City wants, Ziller said. “This could become a big source of jobs in Michigan City.”
Not only Michigan City, though; the whole area is seeing a lot of growth. Last month, officials in Gary broke ground on a project to turn the historic Gary Union Station into a “Fiber Smart House” that will be a hub for training tech workers and students.
Ziller says that the building that was on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list was bought by a group called the Decay Devils. “They are a group of volunteers whose goal is to make empty spaces useful again.” What they did was so good that they got a backer to help them turn it into a tech center.