Continuing the redevelopment of the east side of Indianapolis

Developing East Indianapolis

If you take up reading this blog regularly, you will find that I love my home town of Indianapolis. You will also find that I love the east side of Indy. As a direct result of that, you will find that I am going to talk about ways I think both could be improved in a big way.

We will start off todays thoughts with saying how much I appreciate that after decades of neglect, city government is FINALLY putting some resources into redeveloping the east side. The work that the city (and a bunch of private donors and entrepreneurs) has put into dressing up the near east side has had a great effect all the way from downtown to the county line.

That said, I want to talk (in very broad strokes) about what needs to happen in order for that investment to be fully realized.

As most of the redevelopment so far has been the corridor between 10th street and Washington street, I believe that the best course of action is to continue that trend…and to carry it out all the way to the county line in Cumberland, IN.

But it has to go way beyond house flipping and neighborhood rejuvenation. All along east Washington St there are commercial properties which are empty, or otherwise being utilized well beneath their best use.

So how do we fix that?

For starters, any new property development along the corridor needs to be stopped for a period. If a developer wants to put something new in the area, there are plenty of great sites with incredible highway access which have already been zoned, and developed. If the building currently on the property is not suitable, then the city should be willing to provide some help to developers with razing and replacing those buildings. This could be in the form of temporary tax abatements, or in matching fund programs similar to what is being done with the housing programs on the near east side.

The next thing is an extension of the first. The city needs to step up code enforcement with commercial properties along this corridor. Too many commercial property owners are content to view these lots and buildings as long term investments and current tax write offs. If they are not interested in maintaining the property in a way that is conducive to growing the east side, they should be fined and badgered until they are willing to either step up or sell.

Third. The far east side needs a series of destinations that aren’t related to discount shopping. My ideas for this involve some creative reuse of the rapidly dying Washington Square Mall, and complete tear down and redevelopment of the underutilized areas around the 465 exit on east Washington Street. I will absolutely be writing more on both of these, as I feel like they are paramount (not my concepts necessarily but some kind of destination creation in the area) to pushing the east side to be everything it can be.

Lastly, we have to get the word out. Life long east siders like myself know that the crime problems so many people talk about when they reference have nothing to do with our geography. Hell most of them are overblown, and all of them are isolated to a few troublesome intersections that have more to do with public housing isolating and concentrating impoverished people to the point that the only economy they can even see is crime. I know, I grew up near one of those intersections and leaving it changed my life in a big way.

So what do you say? Do we have the civic pride it takes to continue this growth?

I think so. I also think that if you are considering buying commercial property, you would be a fool not to look along that Washington st corridor. There isn’t much other space to develop in Indianapolis….and the move as far out into the suburbs thing has reached the far side of neighboring counties in every other direction. East is the only affordable expansion Indianapolis has left.

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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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