CEDAR LAKE — Cedar Lake is no longer just a place to go for summer vacations.
The growing community, located on Northwest Indiana's largest natural lake, is continuing to attract year-round residents with its close proximity to Chicago, excellent schools and a growing retail and dining presence, town officials said.
"Cedar Lake is geographically located near good-paying jobs, excellent schools and a variety of recreational opportunities. Summertime cottages are being transformed into family homes in addition to new development. Families who used to just spend their summers here now call Cedar Lake their permanent home.
"The town looks forward to the growth and development to come," Cedar Lake Town Administrator Jill Murr said.
Several new residential subdivisions, including Lakeside, were started and are being expanded, Cedar Lake Building Administrator Michelle Bakker said.
"The first phase of Lakeside subdivision has been built and they are working on a second phase," Bakker said.
Birchwood Farms and Rose Gardens subdivisions are in their beginning stages, and Beacon Point subdivision is planning a large addition.
"Last year we had 209 new homes built, and I'm hoping that number is 250 for this year," Bakker said.
Summer Winds subdivision, which was built in the early 2000s, had remained dormant until recently, Bakker said.
Murr said this is an extremely and exciting time for Cedar Lake.
Infrastructure improvements are one of the main focal points around town, Murr said.
"The investment in our infrastructure has not gone without persistence from many, including the Town Council, Town Hall staff, Public Works staff, community advisers and more," Murr said.
Improvement to the town's roads is a point of pride for Cedar Lake Town Council President John Foreman.
"The unique thing about our town is it was founded in 1967. What many don't realize is that prior to that so many people lived here and there were not proper roads. In the last eight years, the councils I have been on have worked hard to fix old subdivisions never engineered. We are kind of like an old, new town," Foreman said.
Road projects completed last year include those in High Grove and the South Shore subdivisions.
The High Grove subdivision improvements have been a total investment of $4.2 million and the South Shore subdivision improvement, around $3.1 million.
"Both projects had stormwater infrastructure, roadway reconstruction and curbing components," Murr said.
"In conjunction with these projects, NIPSCO replaced and updated gas service lines and mains in those subdivisions. The bonding from these road projects will not impact the taxpayer as we were able to pay off one bond and roll into the next," Murr said.
The $1.6 million roadway reconstruction project on Parrish Avenue was completed in the fall of 2018. This project was awarded a $690,000 Community Crossing Matching Grant.
Plans for the Lincoln Plaza Entrance Improvement Project, a $500,000 renovation plan for the entrance to Lincoln Plaza, was completed by the Redevelopment Commission.
Lincoln Plaza, also known as Broadway, is the entrance on 133rd to Strack & Van Til and True Value as well as other local businesses, Murr said.
Commercial growth has continued to be a reality in Cedar Lake with 47 business permits issued last year, Bakker said.
New businesses last year included Anytime Fitness as well as remodeling of Burger King and Pizza Hut restaurants.
Summer Winds, a commercial plaza, will be opened by Strack & Van Til and True Hardware, later this year.
Nick's Tavern, a Lemont bar that has been featured on Chicago's Best on WGN, is taking over the former Carlo's Pizzeria/Big Butt BBQ at 13231 Wicker Ave. in Cedar Lake, officials said.
The Town Council updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2018 to include a downtown Master Plan for Midway Gardens, a livable town center and Town Hall site development which included a conceptual plan. Cedar Lake town officials continue to work with U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers on the ecosystem restoration project for the lake, Murr said.
Growth for Cedar Lake will continue as residents from nearby Illinois move to Northwest Indiana, Foreman said.
"The only thing we can do is properly manage the growth because there's no slowing it down. Due to the tax structure of Indiana it's a guaranteed reality and something we as a town need to get better at and control," Foreman said.