MERRILLVILLE | For decades, Mike's Sporting Goods has been a prominent business along Broadway.
Owner John Collet said he is moving the business to cut operational costs. The building at 6924 Broadway is for sale, he said.
Collet said he will combine the retail aspect of his Merrillville and St. John stores into one facility in Schererville sometime this fall. He hasn't announced the location of the facility.
Mike's will continue to use the St. John location for screen printing and other custom orders.
The Merrillville store was too large for the business and becoming too costly to operate there, Collet said.
Zoning Director Dorinda Gregor said she hates to see Mike's leave town.
"It's kind of a landmark," she said of the business.
The Mike's Sporting Goods building will increase the vacant structures scattered throughout Broadway in Merrillville.
Gregor said the Wah Yuen Chinese restaurant at 6601 Broadway closed several months ago and Broadway Cafe, 7454 Broadway, has been closed for years.
But it's the north end of Broadway in Merrillville that seems to have the most vacancies, she said.
Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said that area of street has been a focus for him. At least one new business could be in the works there.
Family Dollar could build a new facility at 5377 Broadway, Gregor said.
The Board of Zoning Appeals last week gave a favorable recommendation for a variance Family Dollar is seeking for the project, she said.
Hardaway, who serves on Merrillville's Redevelopment Commission, believes town leaders need to put a stronger emphasis on attracting and retaining businesses on Broadway and other areas of Merrillville.
"There are far too many vacant buildings up and down Broadway," he said.
He thinks Merrillville would benefit by establishing a redevelopment plan.
If buildings remain vacant, they can become eyesores and "ripe for vandals," Hardaway said.
Merrillville looks to create a park at 7200 Broadway and build a resource center for the town's Stormwater Utility at 7404 Broadway.
Town Councilman Shawn Pettit, president of the Redevelopment Commission, thinks those projects will help improve the aesthetics of that area and possibly attract more commercial attention on Broadway.