Nearly-century-old bank tower to bring downtown-style apartments

CATEGORY: Economic Development, News, Speck

Generations of Region residents deposited paychecks, talked to mortgage lenders about making their home ownership dreams a reality and worked at the Bank Calumet building, a nine-story tower with an imposing limestone facade in downtown Hammond.

The 112-foot-bank tower at 5231 Hohman Ave. has loomed over the downtown commercial district since it was built by immigrant craftsmen in 1924.

The downtown has seen a lot of change over the last century. People no longer flock to shop at the Goldblatt's or E.C. Minas department stores. Grand movie palaces like the Paramount and Parthenon theaters no longer pack them in. Streetcars and jitneys no longer shuttle people to and fro.

The street is no longer filled with crowds of pedestrians looking to shop, dine or go to a show.

Bank Calumet, long Hammond's largest homegrown financial institution, no longer occupies the solid-stone edifice on Hohman Avenue, where it long conducted business, holding board meetings in a wood-paneled boardroom with a sweeping view on the ninth floor and filling level after level with bankers' offices. Men in suits and women in dresses no longer take the old Westinghouse elevators to get to appointments and business meetings.

The bank no longer exists. First Midwest Bank, which itself will soon be absorbed by Old National Bank, bought it out in 2006 and closed its downtown headquarters six years ago. The building has sat empty since then.

But developers have a plan to restore the majestic bank tower to its former glory as part of Hammond's downtown revitalization plans. NWI Development Group, a strategic operating partner of the UpperCross Development Group that's been active in Michiana over the last decade, is investing up to $24 million to renovate the historic building and convert it into 100 market-rate apartments with ground-floor retail and a co-working space.

Offices will be turned into living spaces in Hammond's tallest building. The goal is to bring "downtown apartment-style contemporary living" by spring...

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