In recent months, MPC has been working in partnership with The Times of Northwest Indiana, as well as community, business, institutional and state leaders in northwest Indiana to identify opportunities to strengthen this vital part of the region.
One such opportunity is the redevelopment of the Cline Avenue bridge. The bridge, which soars over steel mills, oil refineries, railroads and canals, recently was deemed structurally unstable; ultimately, state and local officials decided not to rebuild it. As MPC has pointed out, removing the bridge can open up new opportunities to remake East Chicago and surrounding communities for the better. For instance, in this story on Cline Avenue redevelopment by Shawn Allee of The Environment Report, Kristi DeLaurentiis, MPC manager of local government and community relations, suggests that removing the bridge will allow for redevelopment along the lakefront, including potentially new homes and park space. “It seems a real shame not to have people picnicking and enjoying the [lakefront] … within their own community,” said DeLaurentiis, who added that redevelopment could be an economic boon for East Chicago and the region. Read MPC’s recommendations for Cline Avenue redevelopment in this recent guest op-ed in The Times.
MPC is looking for other opportunities to remove barriers and catalyze economic development in northwest Indiana. MPC recently toured the City of Gary with Gary elected officials including Mayor Rudy Clay and staff from The Times of Northwest Indiana, which is leading the One Region: One Vision initiative to design a clearer economic road map for Gary and northwest Indiana. On the tour, we witnessed the results of decades of disinvestment and population decline, but also saw assets that could be key to Gary’s redevelopment, including a strong transportation network and access to Lake Michigan. MPC and The Times' initiative will bring local, regional, state and federal officials and experts to the same table to identify best opportunities for near-term and long-term stability in Gary and other communities that make up northwest Indiana’s urban core. The next step is an event planned for this summer, which will identify specific redevelopment opportunities and launch a two-year effort by MPC and The Times to develop a framework for redevelopment, apply national lessons learned to northwest Indiana, and capitalize on emerging federal programs for strategic reinvestment. Stay tuned for more details, and contact Kristi DeLaurentiis to find out how you can take part in this effort: firstname.lastname@example.org.