Incorporated in 1910, Highland boasts a population of 23,000. The median income registers at $65,600, topping the state average by $13,000. With little open space, town officials have gotten creative with ways to bring economic development and businesses home.
Just west of the intersection of Main Street and Indianapolis Boulevard, construction of the 9-acre Cardinal Campus is in full swing.
The $41.4 million project developed by Dr. Claude Gendreau, broke ground this year, and the first building is almost complete.
Gendreau, a veterinary surgeon from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, plans to open an animal surgical center there.
”This is really a wonderful project for Highland,” says Kathy Deguilio-Fox, director of redevelopment. “Cardinal Campus will eventually house eight buildings, one of them a boutique hotel. The revenue generated and the employment opportunities will be very attractive for the town.”
The second building is underway, with Bone & Joint Specialists PC preparing to occupy the first floor, according to Gendreau. The footings are being poured and prep work has started on building No. 3. “The second and third buildings will house various medical professionals,” Deguilio-Fox says.
The Town Council committed up to $16.5 million in tax increment finance bonds to be purchased by Gendreau. “The first three buildings are moving along quickly,” Deguilio-Fox says. “All three make up the first phase and should all be complete by the end of 2018.”
Plans for the remaining buildings and the hotel will come together in the next two-three years, according to town council member Bernie Zemen. “The speed will depend on the number of people who are interested in setting up shop,” he says. “The majority of the two-story buildings will house professionals such as physicians, lawyers, and architects. We’re very happy to add that type of development to the town.”
Jewett and Main
Businesses at the artistic end of Jewett Street continue to grow. The Annex, Two Chicks Consignment Shop, Sip Coffee House, and Erna and Company have hung out their shingles.
“We’re working to create an artisan alcove,” Deguilio-Fox says. “We currently have three painted murals in that area, as well as three sculptures. One of our goals is to expand the arts in Highland.”
The town recently named Alaina Polen poet-laureate for 2018. The graduate of Highland High School is a junior at Indiana University Northwest and will be promoting poetry through readings and slams in her honorary role. “She is a very talented poet, and a wonderful person to represent Highland,” Zemen says.
The volunteer group known as Highland Main Street has stepped up its efforts to bring more activities to town, according to Deguilio-Fox.
“On June 2 we had our annual car cruise, and this year we had over 200 vintage cars,” she says.
Main Street plans to host a new festival, Last Call for Summer, Aug. 11. The fest at the Town Main Square will feature local restaurants, a wine and beer garden serving local craft beers, and live music from 1-6 p.m. “It’s a great way to get together before the kids have to go back to school,” she says.
The Festival of the Trail is set for Oct. 13 at the site of the murals off Jewett. A torrential downpour cancelled last year’s affair, and Deguilio-Fox has a backup plan for this time around. “We have a building at Zandstra’s Farm if the weather is bad,” she says.
With precious little open land in Highland, residential development is completed one house at a time. “On occasion, the town will purchase a home that needs serious refurbishing,” Zemen says. “We either repair it or tear it down and build a new one. Demand for homes is very high in our town, so they go as soon as they’re for sale.”
One reason for this are Highland's top-rated schools. Highland Middle and Judith Morton Johnston Elementary School received ratings of 8 out of 10 from GreatSchools, a nonprofit that helps parents choose the best schools for their children. All six public schools in town are recognized for their academic and athletic achievement.
The last development of any size was the Seberger Farms subdivision. The original build added 32 homes to the town between 2006-12, and single lots have been developed when they become available, including one in 2017. Zemen, a resident of the subdivision, wishes the town had additional parcels for residential growth. “We would sell every house we built,” he says.
A developer has purchased the 19 acres next to Strack & Van Til off the corner of 45th Street and Cline Avenue and is in negotiations with the town regarding its use. Zemen and Deguilio-Fox say it is too early to make any announcements but hope to have solid information this summer.
“We are on the move, going forward,” Deguilio-Fox says. “Highland is a great community, and our residents love it here. Many who moved away are returning when they can find a home. That speaks volumes to the welcoming atmosphere in our town.”