A new furniture store will occupy one of the most prominent big-box vacancies in Highland, a part of the Highland Grove shopping center that has sat empty for nearly two years.
Ashley Furniture HomeStore will take over the space that was formerly occupied by H.H. Gregg and Borders bookstore, Highland Building Commissioner Ken Mika said.
The big-box store at the north end of the outdoor shopping mall at Indianapolis Boulevard and Main Street has been unoccupied since 2017, when the 62-year-old Indianapolis-based electronics and appliance retailer H.H. Gregg went bankrupt and closed all its 220 stores, laying off 4,200 employees across the country. Before that, the building housed a Borders bookstore that was a popular hangout spot in the Region until the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based bookstore chain collapsed in bankruptcy in 2011, around when the Borders and the Barnes & Noble book stores by the Southlake Mall in Hobart also were permanently shuttered.
Florida-based Ashley Furniture HomeStore is now renovating the building. Highland Redevelopment Director Kathy DeGuilio-Fox said it wasn't known when the store will open.
Ashley Furniture HomeStore sells home decor, rugs, accessories and furniture, including sofas, mattresses and full bedroom sets. It also operates a store at 1550 E. Lincoln Highway in Merrillville.
The home furnishings chain, which has more than 750 locations worldwide, previously operated a store about 2.5 miles south in Schererville that closed in 2017. The 50,000-square-foot store at 1516 U.S. 41 in Schererville opened in 2005 and employed up to 50 workers.
Ashley Furniture gave no reason for the closing at the time, but it was during one of the worst retail cullings in recent history, as e-commerce has eroded the business of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers just enough to trigger the closings of multiple stores across the Region and the country at large, such as Sears, Kmart, MC Sports, Sports Authority, and many more.
The company did not return a request for comment.