The 10th Street corridor is one of Indianapolis’ best preserved commercial areas from the early 1900′s – 1950′s. This area developed as a commercial district serving the east Indianapolis neighborhoods like Woodruff Place, Cottage Home, and Pogue’s Run Trail. Urban Indy had a good post about the area last year. These different neighborhoods are mostly a part of the collective Near Eastside Community Organization (NESCO).
The 10th Street Civic Association is the main street organization which represents the economic development arm of the neighborhood. The neighborhood has been anointed as a favorite for restoration because of its size, proximity to downtown, and historic assets. They have a long wish-list of projects to tackle in the next few years, and have already started knocking out their punch-list.
Traveling along 10th street offers an opportunity to experience the urban fabric of Indianapolis as it once existed. The great part about this neighborhood is its unbroken character, there are very few locations where the main street feel is lost to suburban style developments. Admittedly, one of the reasons for this is that it has not seen much investment in the past few decades. But it has great potential as a solid residential and commercial tax base for the city of Indianapolis. It has not (yet) been split by an interstate, bulldozed to prepare way for enormous city-county initiatives, nor abused for heavy industrial use. In truth it is a jewel of a neighborhood.
The city of Indianapolis stands to gain a huge amount of tax revenue if this area can begin attracting a broad cross-section of residents. Most importantly, the residents in the area can rebuild their urban neighborhood once investment capital begins flowing back into the corridor.
The streets have limited parking options, and there are no destination stores for shopping experiences. Many of the operating businesses focus on the needs of the residents and so do not draw visitors from all over the city. The area has an eclectic mix of residents that befits its urban character, and unfortunately this means that many Indiana natives do not feel comfortable here. I think this says more about Indiana natives than the neighborhood, because Indiana seems to have confused pedestrians with criminals.
However, the neighborhood appears to be winning some major battles. Apart from the blessing of a Superbowl practice facility, the neighborhood has been steadily acquiring grant money to put its plans into actions. The strategy for the area has been carefully worked out, and there will be a lot of effort on keeping the existing walkable infrastructure in place even when new buildings are being built.
The latest July 15th Presentation (WARNING: must view with IE, not Firefox) by Storrow Kinsella is the culmination of nearly a decade of serious urban planning. The volume of materials generated by this study filled a gymnasium during the final meeting. Every contributing property in the area has been documented by architects and a plan for restoration listed. Utilities, zoning, infrastructure, walkability, transit options, and just about anything you can imagine has been closely studied and converted into giant maps, digital overlays, or reduced to meaningful statistics. Neighborhood preferences for investments in place-making, public structures, and land-use policies have been taken into account. The plan is clearly laid out, the first steps have been taken, and everyone in the neighborhood is excited about the progress so far.
As mentioned above, this area will see the construction of the new Superbowl 2012 practice facility (which will be donated to Arsenal Tech High School afterwards). Several local buildings are getting a facelift or even major structural renovations. Many structures are now sporting scaffolds, the equivalent of cranes in historic neighborhoods. Much of the current work is sponsored by public or non-profit groups in the hopes that private development will soon follow.
E. 10th Street had the first building in Indianapolis with a green roof. As of right now, two commercial buildings have a green roof which may be a higher concentration than anywhere else in the city. The John H. Boner center (roof) and the Moonblock building (roof) both have Live Roof systems and were established as proof that the new technology of green design could mesh easily with traditional historic preservation and economic development.
Another recent development is the Pogue’s Run Grocer (Indy Food Coop). This locally owned grocer should provide residents with a great choice of quality food. I am quite looking forward to the opening this fall. I was able to volunteer for some of the demolition work, so I got to meet some of the people who will be running it as well as seeing the building they will be using as a storefront. Needless to say, it has a lot of potential and is sited in a great location.
Other historic assets include the Rivoli Theater and American Legion building. The theater has an interesting history, and I am hoping that the neighborhood can soon support a new use for it.
The American Legion Building would make a great owner-occupied space. Old mixed use spaces like this are rare, especially one with a great look. IIRC The Ball State study recommended opening up the old storefront windows. It could be a great neighborhood resource.
The old Emerson Theater now regularly hosts independent bands, which seems to attract a young crowd. Before a show there is plenty of activity on the sidewalks.