Highland stock

HIGHLAND — As the calendar runs out on 2017, the Town Council is looking toward the new year with major changes on tap for the downtown area, as well as the north and south ends of town.

"There's a number of initiatives going on," said Council Vice President Steve Wagner, D-4th.

However, some of these potential projects are not yet at the public discussion stage, he said.

One item the public already can see is the Cardinal Campus office park going up at Main Street and Prairie Avenue.

Council President Dan Vassar, D-3rd, would like to see significant progress there in 2018.

The development, which already has broken ground, will feature seven two-story office buildings and a three-story boutique hotel.

Vassar also said he would like serious consideration of new locations for the public works garage and adjacent Sharp Athletic Complex, which sit along Kennedy Avenue near the Little Calumet River.

Town officials long have dreamed about opening up this land for new development, as Hammond is doing on its side of the border.

"We know there's interest" from various developers, Vassar said.

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Farther south on Kennedy, in the downtown area, stands the long-vacant Town Theatre building, which is slated for demolition starting Jan. 3, along with the two adjacent buildings to the north.

The town, which owns these buildings, would like to acquire the remaining buildings on this block and level the entire 5 acres going west to the bike path.

"We'd like to get the Town Theatre area shovel-ready" for developers to come in and make their pitches, Vassar said.

Vassar said he personally would like to see mixed-use development at this site, which would include retail on the ground floors and residential housing above them — something that would appeal to young adults.

"We would welcome an outside developer's vision," Vassar said.

As the Cardinal Campus begins to sprout its buildings, someone is taking a look at undeveloped land on Cline Avenue near Strack and Van Til, said Councilman Mark Herak, I-2nd.

"The future of Highland is based on economic development," he said.

Wagner said he also expects 2018 to see continued council support for the police and fire departments.

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