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Old 06-12-2014, 01:11 AM
 
49 posts, read 97,214 times
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Hello. I am new to the forums. I have been observing for some time and finally decided to sign up and get involved in the discussions myself. I am from NWI and like the area. I lived in South Hammond as a very young child but have spent most of my life in Griffith and Highland. I still live in the Griffith-Highland area and intend to stay for a long time. I moved back and forth between the two and consider them both my hometown. I see them as very integrated with one another in terms of shopping, traffic, etc.

I was hoping to spark up some discussion about these towns. It's usually all about how great the "Tri-town" area is and how great Crown Point is (not to take anything away from those towns). It's very rare that any of the towns and cities further north are mentioned in a positive way. We definitely hear about the crime, neglect, and poverty of Hammond, E.C., and Gary. Once in a while someone says Whiting is a charming lakefront community. Occasionally, folks give Munster the recognition it deserves. Highland and Griffith, on the other hand, are oddly ignored. I very rarely ever see or hear them being recommended.

I suppose I'm a little biased , but I think both towns are great places to live. Highland has lots of shopping options, and the businesses continue to grow while both towns sport quaint downtown sections. Even if they're not the elite of NWI, the school systems in both towns are solid. I've always been satisfied with town services as well. They have what I would consider very convenient locations - a bit closer to Chicago than towns like Crown Point and easy access to 80-94. They don't feel too rural but don't feel big and crowded either.

Housing can be very nice in both towns and is varied. There are old-fashioned homes available in either town, and Highland has a number of very nice, relatively new subdivisions. Griffith also has some very nice neighborhoods like Woodland Estates. I won't say Griffith is some kind of affluent town, because it's not, but I'd say people would be surprised if they actually drove through Griffith and saw what it has to offer.

I feel very safe in either town. They both have good police departments, and Griffith's proximity to the Black Oak area of Gary doesn't seem to hurt it. People may also say the Mansards apartment complexes in Griffith are cause for concern. They're definitely not the nicest, but the neighborhood around them is still very solid and safe. Both towns are very well-kept.

Griffith still has room to grow, and although some may disagree, I don't think it's headed in the wrong direction. I'd even venture to say that Highland is on the upswing. I love these towns, and even if I were rich, I think I'd choose one of the nicer houses in Highland or Griffith rather than move to Munster, the "Tri-town" area, or Crown Point. Highland and Griffith are home to me. Something about them just feels a little more "down-to-earth." You'll also find you get more for your money in these towns than in some others. Are those other towns I mentioned nice? Absolutely. Are they the best fit for some folks? Of course. My question is why don't Griffith and Highland get a little more respect? Why not mention them as good, middle-class towns for people to buy in? I like them, and I'd love to see them get their fair share of recognition. What is your perception of these towns? Is there just so little talk about these towns because they're considered "boring"? That's the impression I get from some residents of other towns. Do you think they have bright futures? Would you consider buying there? Why or why not? I've given my thoughts, but I'm curious as to what some of you think, since these towns aren't often discussed.
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:52 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
2,752 posts, read 2,363,816 times
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Griffith just seems to be kind of boring, not much to do. It isn't spotlighted because it in reality is just another suburb. When people do focus on Northwest Indiana, they are probably only looking at Gary and East Chicago with regards to their legacy and decline. Griffith appears to be a nice safe community in the area, but it's probably not talked about because, just like most Chicago suburbs, there's nothing notable there. I look have a buddy who lives in Griffith and says it's just like any other Chicago suburb. So that's probably why it's not talked about too much.
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Old 06-12-2014, 06:45 AM
 
2,154 posts, read 5,448,913 times
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HIGHLAND

As far as Highland goes, I feel as though the reason why it may not be recommended as much is not because it is a bad town at all, but because housing options for the 21st Century family are really very limited. The only place left to build as far as a new subdivision goes is Seberger Farms and while that is a nice subdivision, it is mostly dominated by older folks building the detached ranch homes. The south side of 43rd St is where the more executive style single-family homes are and where the younger families live. The subdivision as a whole doesn't shout "young families are welcome!". There is White Oak Estates of Highland that really only has one lot left to build now. It is a nice area but many buyers in that price range would more likely be drawn to Munster, Dyer, or Schererville for the higher rated schools and more options to build. Other than that, the only other options are either the very few scattered lots around town where building a home would definitely put you way above the other homes or to tear down an old home and build new (which while that would be great, it is not inexpensive and not really catching on in Highland). Highland is a very solid town and even boasted THE lowest foreclosure rate out of any municipality in Lake County and most of Northwest Indiana in general. I like Highland. A few years ago, I was concerned that Highland was just very stagnant...it really was not standing out much. Town leaders knew this and so that's a lot of the reason why the town was pushing for more development in their retail area along Indianapolis Blvd as well as their downtown area.

Now I realize that not ALL young families are looking for that executive style 300K home; however, while Highland is a place that many young upwardly mobile families may purchase their first home, Highland is having a difficult time retaining these families as they find that living in a small post-WWII home is not working for them and with nor really having much choice to move up in town (because even the inventory is low for the more upmarket homes), they move. I do believe that Highland should have held out a bit on development south of 45th St just as Munster did so that they could attract more executive level buyers. Again, I know its not all about "the elite" but executive style buyers are the most likely folks to stay because in building their homes or buying relatively new, they are way more likely in their price range to feel content than other buyers who may say "hey, Highland was okay, but now I can move to Crown Point and get a brand new home in a better school district for not that much more than an older home in Highland and definitely cheaper than a newer home in Highland". Speaking of the schools, the schools in Highland are maybe above average, good, not great, but not bad. One thing Highland needs to start looking at is rebuilding maybe one or two of their elementary schools.

GRIFFITH

As far as Griffith goes, it has really made major improvements recently that have made the town appeal more attractive. It is sparked some homeowners in the downtown area to spruce up and a couple homes have even been completely rebuilt. However, to me, Griffith just has too much uncertainty going on for me to want to live there. I know you stated that Griffith doesn't feel too rural overall, but when you get south of Main St, it feels like I'm in the backwoods somewhere. It is mostly very undeveloped and marshy land and it just feels so disconnected from Griffith. However, as part of it is in Lake Central Schools, it actually does disconnect families from the Griffith community. Aside from the new Trail Creek subdivision, is there any chance that other parts around there would be developed into newer housing? I don't know. On the one hand, it would help Griffith a lot having new construction with a Griffith address but on the other hand, it would not benefit the schools as that would be all zoned to Lake Central. As far as Griffith schools go, I feel that students are so segregated and as described to me by a friends younger cousin, there are many territorial issues going on. Kids from the Mansards are zoned to Ready Elementary School and many of these students are students who moved from other school districts that were far worse than Griffith. But many of these students are struggling. I would say that proximity to Black Oak is not really an issue for Griffith and if it is not an issue now it probably won't be in the future. I feel that the presence of the Mansard's is a much bigger issue for Griffith. The town just appears so segregated. Most of the Whites and Hispanic middle class families live in the neighborhood homes and most of the Black middle class families live in the Mansards even if they could afford to live in the neighborhood homes. I just don't get it. I've been in and out of Griffith visiting my whole life but I have seen way less minority families all around Griffith than even in Munster or parts of Schererville and Dyer. I just don't know how comfortable I would feel. In Schererville and Dyer, many middle class minority families move into the newer neighborhoods where they feel they can start in a fresh environment. In Griffith, there is not that opportunity. I know that Griffith has a higher Black population percentage-wise than Munster, Highland, or the Tri-town area; but it just seems so very segregated. Most any neighborhood that one moves into is likely to have residents who have lived there 40+ years. This is something I have never had any experience with myself as I have always lived in newer areas; however, some friends I know (even who are not minorities) have not really felt welcomed in older more established areas and this extends to Griffith.

I would definitely say Highland is a much better area than Griffith and it feels more convenient to me as well. I honestly wouldn't have a problem living in Highland. Griffith? I would really have to think about. I don't dislike Griffith but I don't know how much it has going for it long-term.
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:34 AM
 
811 posts, read 2,322,809 times
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I don't have a whole lot more to add aside from the above posts. I'd just say that I'd prefer to live in Highland before Griffith if I were forced to chose. I think it's just a nicer town overall and has good leadership.

The thing that would be a little concerning to me is how both of the towns' populations are aging. There's not nearly the amount of young families setting down in these towns as there were in say the 1980s. One indicator of that is the schools' enrollments. Highland High used to be around 2400 students...now it's in the 1200 range. Griffith has seen the same trend. That means there's fewer young families putting their kids through the school district than before. The baby boomers kids who grew up in Highland and Griffith aren't moving back to raise their own families there, in a general sense. Of course some are, but most aren't. Many have moved south to raise their families to Tri-Town, Crown Point, or out east to places like Valpo. I say all of this because it brings into question the future of the towns in the next 10-20 years. If more elderly people live in these towns and as they pass away or move on and are forced to sell their home, if young families aren't buying those houses, who is? Demand is then lower, prices drop, and that starts a cycle you don't want in your town.

So today, I like both Griffith and Highland. Blue collar, middle class towns they most definitely are. I especially like the downtown areas of both towns and Griffith's downtown renovation looks nice. However, based on some of the things I mentioned above, I have a harder time giving my endorsement on either town to a young familiy (more hesitant to recommend Griffith) because I can't confidently say that in 10, 15, 20 years, they will still be at the same level. I certainly hope they are, but there are risks that these towns face that the other towns you mentioned do not face or will likely not face for a few more decades.

Last edited by svillechris; 06-12-2014 at 08:58 AM..
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:42 AM
 
7,329 posts, read 16,339,298 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northwest Indiana View Post
[b]HIGHLAND]it feels like I'm in the backwoods somewhere. It is mostly very undeveloped and marshy land and it just feels so disconnected from Griffith.
I agree with concerns about an aging population, but I must say the above is what I like about Griffith. I'm sure a lot of people who live there love it for that very reason. And believe me, **that will be true even when today's generation of older people is gone**. True young people sometimes don't get that. I didn't understand my family's objections to so many new subdivisions when I was younger either. (And that was loooooong before the recent housing boom when there was much less growth) Areas like that are becoming precious. Let's not forget that in the name of progress. Every square inch of an area doesn't have to be homes, businesses, and even manicured parks with tennis courts. I truly would not live in an executive home, or any home for that matter, in a new subdivision with nothing but saplings. I'm not waiting for decades for mature trees! I am far from the only one. And parts of Griffith do have that very old time rural feel that will be truly missed when it's all gone. Maybe even by you down the road!
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:37 PM
 
2,154 posts, read 5,448,913 times
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Originally Posted by subject2change View Post
I agree with concerns about an aging population, but I must say the above is what I like about Griffith. I'm sure a lot of people who live there love it for that very reason. And believe me, **that will be true even when today's generation of older people is gone**. True young people sometimes don't get that. I didn't understand my family's objections to so many new subdivisions when I was younger either. (And that was loooooong before the recent housing boom when there was much less growth) Areas like that are becoming precious. Let's not forget that in the name of progress. Every square inch of an area doesn't have to be homes, businesses, and even manicured parks with tennis courts. I truly would not live in an executive home, or any home for that matter, in a new subdivision with nothing but saplings. I'm not waiting for decades for mature trees! I am far from the only one. And parts of Griffith do have that very old time rural feel that will be truly missed when it's all gone. Maybe even by you down the road!
You do bring up a good point that not every area needs to be developed. I really don't anticipate the more southern area of Griffith becoming more developed than it is now, but it is a thought. Also, by me "down the road" it is pretty much 100% developed. However, when my area was being developed, they made sure to leave buffers of mature forestry. Thus, the area still retained a lot of its old trees.
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Old 06-22-2014, 11:22 PM
 
16 posts, read 31,237 times
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Having grown up in NWI (Munster) back in the 70's and 80's, and being an periodic visitor to family regularly for years since then, I've seen some real decline in many parts of the area. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but often it takes moving out of the area and visiting to truly see the very noticeable changes than might not be observable to someone who lives there and sees them day-to-day.

With respect to Griffith, it was always a purely middle-class, blue collar town. Generally safe, with a bit of retail and some restaurants - Cline/Ridge, and 45th ave come to mind. I remember visiting the Mansards and actually playing tennis there. It was a solid place.

Fast forward to today: the Mansards is in the news for having some crazy stuff happening there, and it's developed a less than savory reputation. You couldn't believe this is the same place I actually visited decades ago. As for the rest of Griffith, it just feels run down and less than prosperous. Not a fan, sorry.

Highland was generally a solidly middle class town back in the day, maybe a step above Griffith but not at Munster's level in terms of schools and general reputation. In any event, it was a decent place - and frankly back then, it was Munster's rival. Indianapolis Blvd retail/dining - as in north of 45th ave - was a place to go in the area.

Today, Highland has some development further south (which has been there for many years I realize), and some newer housing developments adjoining some of Munster's nicest areas, but the rest of the town simply looks tired.

Now living in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago, I can see how some places are prosperous and positive while others look stagnant, even sinking - you can guess where Highland and Griffith fit in. I hate saying it because I loved growing up in NWI and think the area has some things going for it, but really don't see visible signs of action toward progress. Many places in the Chicago area have become really, really nice places to live but many NWI communities have simply not kept pace. That anyone would be talking up Highland and Griffith is a perfect example of what's holding back the area.
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