HIGHLAND | A topnotch business climate, along with new recreational and municipal facilities, heads the list of current developments around town.
The Highland Town Council, Redevelopment and Economic Development commissions are working to cultivate a friendly business climate.
To control what businesses come into town, the Redevelopment Commission created a redevelopment area several years ago along Kennedy Avenue from the Hammond border to Lincoln Street.
Last year brought a second redevelopment area from northern Indianapolis Boulevard south to 45th Street. It then stretches along 45th Street to Cline Avenue, from Cline to Ridge Road and on Ridge to Town Hall.
"Basically, we are making Highland very business friendly," Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro said. "All incentives that can be offered will be offered to those businesses that will make an impact ..."
A redevelopment area gives the commission power of eminent domain, tax increment financing and other business development tools.
The town currently is considering tax abatement for a Culver's restaurant proposed for the southwest corner of Ridge and Cline.
"We are very concerned about providing additional employment to the residents of Highland," Petro noted. "That is one of the main focuses of tax abatement."
Tax abatement also has been requested by Volkswagen of Orland Park, which wants to move to 9601 Indianapolis after an existing Toyota dealership moves to Schererville.
The town also has seen the opening of two other restaurants over the past couple of months.
"Highland is truly "open for business," Petro said.
With last year's opening of the first half of the newly rebuilt Lincoln Center, the town's recreational facility has impressed visitors.
The second half of the center will be revamped this year, said Park Superintendent Alex Brown.
The first phase included a modern lobby, classrooms, aerobics and a fitness center. The new section will house administrative offices and a day care center able to serve 92 children.
Brown added that a small gym has been renovated into a banquet facility for up to 300 people.
The Redevelopment Commission also is working to acquire the historic Town Theatre on Kennedy Avenue, which has been vacant for the past few years. The commission acquired rights to it through a tax sale last year.
If the current owner does not pay the back taxes by Sept. 24, the building becomes property of the town, which would like to retain it as a theater.
In 2012, talks will resume on a new Town Hall in the downtown, where the main fire station now sits. This would also involve construction of new, separate Police and Fire department facilities where the current Town Hall now sits on Ridge Road.
"We will concentrate on (the) police first," said Town Council President Bernie Zemen, D-1st.