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Whiting is getting more downtown retail and apartments, and Calumet College of St. Joseph is getting its first dorm after years of planning.

Holladay Properties broke ground Monday on a new $5.5 million project at the site of the former Illiana Hotel that was demolished last year at 119th Street and Atchison Avenue at the border of Whiting and Hammond's Robertsdale neighborhood. The 41,000-square-foot, 5-story building will include more than 4,000 square feet of retail space and 32 apartments, including 12 leased by the college for use as dorms.

"This is a wonderful community," said A.J. Monroe, the vice president of planning and development at Holladay Properties. "We're really glad to be part of it. We're looking forward to being part of the city of Whiting, Robertsdale and all the great things going on up here."

Amy McCormack, the president of Calumet College of St. Joseph, said it was an "incredible opportunity" for the largely commuter Catholic college that has a vertical campus five blocks away.

"We have everything we need for students right around our campus," she said. "With Whiting and everything that's being done here with the development of the community, with Hammond and Wolf Lake and the lakefront, there's so many resources right here. When we look at the rich resources of Northwest Indiana, I feel really privileged to be here."

McCormark said the project marked a major milestone for the college, which tried to build dorms itself in 2016 before running afoul of financing issues.

"This is our foray into residence halls," she said. "Even though we have 100 students who live in the community, we're now able to welcome those students in a quality building close to the campus right in the heart of the community."

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Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura said the city's redevelopment was ongoing.

"Hopefully, it's the beginning of many more projects to come," he said. "Holladay is a great group to work with."

The new mixed-use building will provide housing options for college students, young professionals and millennials, Stahura said.

"Not everybody wants to live in a 120-year-old home," he said. "This provides some valuable housing stock downtown. They'll visit the brewery, the restaurant, the stores."

The first-floor retail space could be divided into up to three units but one tenant is interested in taking over all of it, Stahura said.

"I'm hoping it would be a nice eatery or a restaurant," he said. "We have some folks now who are interested in unique services that are needed in the community. We may have a deal soon to announce."

Construction on the building is expected to be completed in August of 2020.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.