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Near-east-side Super Bowl efforts go beyond the big game

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For a Super Bowl-related initiative to revitalize Indianapolis’ near-east side, the hardest work will come after the Feb. 5 game.

The neighborhood so far has leveraged $154 million in investment to create new streetscapes and renovate homes and retail fronts along East 10th Street, just a few miles east of downtown.

But the area is still far—experts say five to 10 years—from budding into a trendy district such as Mass Ave or Fountain Square. That's why, planners say, continuing momentum after the game will be critical, and they're hoping several post-Super Bowl initiatives will do that.

Financing for Clifford Corners, a mixed-use apartment, condo and retail project, was completed Dec. 22, and a public groundbreaking will take place next month.

In February, leaders of neighborhood groups in the area will unveil their updated quality-of-life plan, which was the blueprint for the initiatives now taking place in the area.

And in March, work is expected to begin on the transformation of an old Indianapolis Public Schools building into the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters.

“What we want to reinforce with that is, the work continues,” said James Taylor, CEO of the John H. Boner Community Center, which has been at the center of the revitalization efforts.

Those efforts began after near-east-side residents mobilized behind a neighborhood improvement plan in 2006. By mid-2008, when the Super Bowl embraced the area’s plan as its so-called legacy project, residents had attracted about $45 in investment.

The National Football League has contributed less than $2 million to that effort, but the name recognition that has come from the Super Bowl’s involvement has helped the area attract attention, high-profile community members and money.

The $154 million tallied so far includes everything from the investments that service-ratings firm Angie’s List made to its near-east-side headquarters to dollars captured from a tax-increment financing district. About 55 percent of the funding was public, while a quarter came from corporations, organizations and individuals, and the remainder came from foundations and other sources.

That money has helped build the $11.3 million Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center, which houses a health and fitness facility and about a dozen local organizations to provide cultural programming. It also helped rehab, build or repair 204 homes and attract eight new storefronts to East 10th Street since January 2010. 

“Eventually, what needs to happen is the private sector takes over,” Taylor said. “The economics work, and suddenly you have other people using their own money to renovate homes and sell them in the neighborhood. They see a building for sale and go buy it.”

The neighborhood is starting to see glimmers of that, observers say. As IBJ reported in October, vintage-ware veterans Tim Harmon and Julie Crow plan to open a business at 2901 E. 10th Street next spring called Tim & Julie’s Another Fine Mess.

Gregg Donaldson, a real estate agent with Milhaus Development who is marketing property along East 10th Street, including the building Harmon and Crow purchased, said the pair purchased the space without a subsidy.

Donaldson, who has considered selling his out-of-state properties to invest in the area, said he’s spoken to private landowners who are holding off on selling their properties because they foresee that they will become more valuable in the next few years.

“You see certain pockets of cities where artists tend to go—where they have cheap rent—and they really turn around the area,” Donaldson said. “We see the East 10th Street area as being that next area when Fountain Square gets too expensive. We see pretty good potential.”

There’s also evidence, however, that the area still has problems. This week, Donaldson reduced the price of commercial space in one of the buildings along the corridor that he is marketing from between $10 and $15 per square foot to $8 per square foot.

But Joe Caito, a broker with Indianapolis-based Acorn Group who is on the board of the East 10th Street Civic Association, said the still-low home prices could play well with those looking for a good deal—and help foster the turnaround.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for first-time homebuyers or empty-nesters to still afford a home,” he said, “at these times when value is on the forefront of everybody’s mind.”

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  • East side renovations
    I agree that the 10th St. corridor is looking fantastic, however there is more to the east side than 10th St. I am a Irvington resident and our area is in a bad need of street repair and new side walks. There are a lot of Senior Citizens in the area and a big historic value in Irvington. Why isn't this being addressed?? What about the safety of the area? I myself have had my vehicle broken into several times in the last couple of years and it don't do any good to file reports because no one investigates them any way. Please help us in Irvington!!

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