• Griffith, Indiana, is a small town 35 miles from the Loop which overcame economic problems to revitalize its downtown.
  • Town officials used money from a railroad settlement to add quality-of-life enhancements.
  • Downtown business interior and exterior renovation funding was a big driver of the improved business climate.

A small northwest Indiana town, just 35 miles from the Loop, has successfully reinvented itself into a hip spot that’s top of the list for nearby first-time homebuyers. Griffith, with a population of 16,500, boasts a newly repopulated main street. The town had recovered from a dual economic blow - the decline of the importance of the railroad and of neighboring steel mills. The town's six-block downtown is now thriving with the small-town version of hipster cool that draws in young families who seek that vibe without the high price of entry into the real estate market. A high-end, indie coffeehouse, a thriving music store, vegan cafe and craft breweries lend credence to the cachet. Local real estate prices have been flat over the past few years, but local agents expect that...