MICHIGAN CITY | An old South Shore Railroad train station in Michigan City will be turned into a restaurant adding to the ongoing revitalization of that city's north end.
Michigan City mayor Ron Meer said the project is a reflection of the growing amount of investment along and near the Franklin Street corridor from 4th to 11th streets.
"There's a lot of activity. A lot of action," Meer said.
The landmark old train station on 11th Street east of Franklin Street will also provide housing, with lofts planned on the second floor of the structure, said Michael Connor, a Michigan City real estate agent and one of the investors in the building.
The old train station, formerly owned by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, has been vacant since 1987, when it was last used as a train station, Connor said.
For 60 years, he said mutliple trains ran to and from the old station 24 hours a day, and the building included a diner.
Connor said the building was chosen for purchase because of the marketability of having a restaurant appealing to people who might to re-live the old train station's glory days over dinner.
"It's a historic central piece of the downtown," said Connor.
The building was acquired earlier this month by Connor and Michigan City resident Wally Yoost.
Connor said no restaurant has been chosen to occupy the 5,000 square feet contained on the lower level of the building yet.
Renovation which has already started is scheduled to be finished in July when it will be opened for public viewing in hopes of attracting a restaurant owner.
He said the outside of the building will be kept original except the white paint will be stripped from the existing stone, which is off-white in color.
"Everybody loves the building," said Connor.
Meer said talks are currently ongoing with more investors looking at other historic buildings to fix up and convert into businesses along the Franklin Street corridor, which has undergone noticeable revitalization in recent years.
One of the catalysts has been steady progress in the revitalization and potential for drawing primarily Chicago area residents to major attractions like the lakefront, Blue Chip Casino and Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets mall who desire to venture into the downtown to frequent shops and restaurants.
"It's all kind of coming together," Meer said.