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Hammond mayor outlines downtown revitalization goals in State of the City address

screenshot from Go Hammond Facebook video
Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. speaks to members of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce during his annual State of the City address on Jan. 20.

Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. is confident Downtown Hammond will be a different place in the coming decades. During his State of the City Address Thursday, McDermott said the West Lake Corridor commuter rail project is a chance to turn the downtown area around.

"You look 30, 40 years from now, it's going to look a lot more like Chicago — for better or for worse. A lot more life. Hopefully, the rail lines — the Metra rail lines and all the development and all the young people and the Starbucks — and that's what I hope 30 or 40 years from now. That's the bet," McDermott told members of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

While a Downtown Hammond station isn't part of the initial West Lake Corridor project, McDermott now hopes to add one shortly after the branch opens. The area already has a few developments planned, including Rimbach Plaza, Madison Lofts at the northeast corner of Hohman and Sibley, and the rehabilitation of the former Bank Calumet building.

McDermott says the redesign of Hohman Avenue will make the area feel more friendly to pedestrians and more like Munster's stretch of the road. Now, he says the city is also looking to apply the same principles to the Hessville area by reducing lanes and widening sidewalks on Kennedy Avenue.

During Thursday's address, McDermott also revisited his earlier suggestion to merge Lake County's communities into one large municipality, similar to the Indianapolis area, but he acknowledged that the interest isn't there.