Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. has announced that although we are saddened by the loss of the Straube Building caused by the fire, this tragic event provides the opportunity for the construction of new, innovative commercial development. The City has a master plan that discusses increased walkability, livability and a parking plan for the downtown area, so this opportunity may help to bolster the plan.
Downtown Hammond has a history of strong retail activity and is home to beautiful commercial buildings with rich historic architectural integrity. Developers interested in the property will be given a “clean slate” to provide ideas for future development. This site will offer a liquor license for additional development opportunities. Also, the Downtown Census tract was recently approved as an Opportunity Zone Census Tract, providing the City with additional incentives to offer developers interested in investing there.
The City will reach out to our anchor institutions, such as Franciscan Health, County Courthouse, Towle Theater, HAST, and PNW and have them participate in the active engagement of downtown planning and development, allowing them to continue their growth and contribute to the sustainability of downtown.
Private investment is on the uptick in Downtown Hammond, such as 18th Street Brewery expansion, Assurance Health purchasing and renovating the building adjacent to the Straube Building site, and the City’s recent investment through the purchase of the LaSalle and Jefferson Hotels. The potential West Lake Corridor Extension and its Gateway Station just north of downtown will help link different areas in Hammond together and create connectivity that is so vital to a City progressing forward.
Gone are the days of big box shopping in the downtown corridor, but we are looking forward to transforming our downtown to a strong, innovative business corridor, with niche retail, that encourages solid consumer activity for years to come.