BEVERLY SHORES — A long-vacant magazine publishing building on Dunes Highway has been revived after a major investment by the NWI Development Group.

The Michigan City-based developer, which has been behind several major recent projects across Northwest Indiana, renovated the modernistic glass-and-metal commercial building at 1 E. Dunes Highway in Beverly Shores. Now dubbed The Mullet Marketplace, it's across the street from the Goblin & the Grocer and across the highway from the South Shore Line station that doubles as the Depot Museum and Art Gallery.

"This is an 8,000-square-foot commercial building, one of those buildings we drove by for a long time, that's been vacant for a long time," Robert Harte of NWI Development Group said. "We said it's time for this building to find new life. There's a market for it. So we decided to acquire it and renovate it."

NWI Development Group leased 2,000 square feet out to a financial firm and is looking to bring in one to three tenants to fill out the rest of the property. It's drawn interest for potential use for retail, restaurants, office space, a craft brewery or a distillery.

"We'll see who makes the commitment," Harte said.

The development group also is pursuing a multimillion-dollar project to turn the historic Bank Calumet building in downtown Hammond into apartments as well as new housing in Michigan City.

"We're NWI Development Group. We focus almost exclusively on Northwest Indiana," Harte said. "We're working on projects from Michigan City to Hammond, so I like to say we've got Northwest Indiana bookended. When we see projects in between, we're going to do them."

The company renovated a building in Beverly Shores that was previously home to a publishing house that prolific author and former Michigan City News-Dispatch reporter Neil Ruzik and his wife Carol founded. It put out magazines such as Industrial Research and Oceanography before it was sold to Dun and Bradstreet in 1970.

The late Ruzik wrote a dozen books, many penned on the South Shore Line train between Beverly Shores and Chicago, and built a publishing company after putting out the IIT research laboratory's newsletter.

"The building looked just the same," Carol Ruzik said. "It was nice to work here. You didn't have to commute. It's a great building. It's just been empty for so long."

It sat vacant for 15 years.

"For us, it was a head-scratcher," Harte said. "It's a beautiful building. It's got beautiful lines. Our company, NWI Development Group, is so enthusiastic about Northwest Indiana we would drive by it all the time and think this needs to move again."

The project replaced all the windows, installed new mechanical systems, put in new plumbing and improved the septic system. The windows and septic alone exceeded $250,000.

"There's everything going on with the National Park designation," Harte said. "This is the National Park campground right behind us. There's the whole trajectory of the National Park status and what it's doing to the area."

The first tenant to lease space is Camargo Group, which invests in manufactured housing chattel loans. Founded more than 12 years ago by Beverly Shores resident Adam Peterson, the company has been involved in the acquisition of more than $500 million in retail and commercial chattel across the country.

Employees had been working from home since COVID, but the new office will give them somewhere to come in at least a few days a week, he said.

"We're excited to provide an anchor," Peterson said. "Once the (Double Track project) is done, this will be a great little spot. You can get right off the train and walk across the street to here."

It will employ six in the new office.

"We have a lot of space to grow," he said. "We have the ability to add workstations. Having your office on the footsteps of the National Park makes it easy to take a mental health walk. After a call, if you need to walk down to the lake or something, it's an opportunity you don't normally find. That proximity to nature and ability to destress is important, I think."

Peterson said it was exciting to see the building get revitalized.

"There's no commercial enterprises on the other side of the highway," he said. "While we have a very vibrant residential market and people are moving here, it would be good for people to not have to commute, to have the opportunity to make a living and enjoy where they're living. We can get people off the roads and off the trains because they're living and working here. I just hope we get some good solid tenants here."

He believes it's a prime spot, given the 250,000 cars that pass by a year on Dunes Highway and Indiana Dunes National Park Dunewood Campground.

"It makes sense to me that retail takes up the rest of the space," he said. "The ability to capture some of that tourism dollar here is a perfect thing."
© Copyright 2022, nwitimes.com, Munster, IN