Is it a matter of downtown Porter not tooting its own horn, or is there not
enough to toot about?
That’s a question consultant Greg Calpino of SEH, the Porter Redevelopment
Commission and audience members considered at a downtown master plan
Oct. 23 at approximately 7:30 p.m. SEH staff will present options and
alternatives to make downtown Porter more vital with greater sustainability,
and by year’s end a preferred plan will be developed.
Calpino reported on the results of a recent print/online survey completed by
more than 100 respondents.
By far 82 percent believe Lincoln Street is downtown Porter, followed
distantly by Franklin Street, Wagner Road and Hawthorne Park. Calpino
identified downtown arrival corridors as Wagner (Jackson Boulevard in
Chesterton), Beam Street, Francis Street (15th Street), Waverly Road and
The main reason people visit downtown Porter is for dining (69 percent)
followed by festivals/events, visiting the town hall and Hageman Library.
Yet when asked where respondents normally dine out, Chesterton --- both
downtown and Indian Boundary Road --- won out followed by Valparaiso in
popularity before Porter. As for where respondents shop, Porter was ranked
Calpino said Porter shouldn’t want to replicate what’s already being offered
in other areas but rather build off of what’s existing or create a niche
market for itself, yet there are challenges that have to be overcome.
Downtown Porter doesn’t have a direct interchange off Interstate 94, a
designated truck route goes through the downtown, and multiple sets of
railroad tracks separate it from Chesterton. Porter has a growing hike/bike
trail network, but it’s still a distance to downtown from Porter’s
lakefront, the state/federal parks and the U.S. 20/Indiana 49 corridor.
In short, downtown Porter is a long, winding road away from traffic, said
When people get there, he continued, the perception is parking is generally
adequate but could be better configured; there are good bones in place but
architecture and streetscapes could be improved; healthier, family-friendly
dining options are needed; and attractiveness, cleanliness and a desire for
events were top focus areas for an improved downtown.
It’s possible to leverage the popularity of Hawthorne Park to promote
Porter’s downtown, said Calpino, but how best should that be done? Land use
and appropriate zoning changes also could offer significant redevelopment
opportunities, he added.
In two weeks Calpino said SEH will concentrate more on specific types of
businesses that might want to locate in Porter, or that respondents
indicated they’d like to see here. The latter included a grocer, big-box
store, clothing and hardware.
Commented Calpino, “I think there is opportunity. Not all your needs are