Northwest Indiana’s Griffith redevelopment program boosts homebuyer interest

Griffith, Indiana, recovers successfully and rebuilds a cool downtown
  • 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 to change. Already the vast majority of homebuyers in Griffith, first-timers love the friendly downtown, low-key community events and comfy starter homes that start in the low $130,000 range. What...