IBJNews

Shuttered school finding new life as community center

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Two years after Indianapolis Public Schools closed School 37, a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project is set to breath new life into a building that had served the Martindale-Brightwood community for 81 years.

Central Indiana Community Foundation is spearheading the plan to transform the 52,000-square-foot former school into a community center. Construction is scheduled to begin in September, even as organizers work to raise the $2.5 million to $3 million necessary to complete the project.

“Finally, we have something that belongs to the community,” said neighborhood resident Peggy Storey, 73. “It is ours.”

IPS gave the property to Marion County, which in June agreed to lease it to CICF. The foundation got involved because of a longstanding relationship with the near-northeast-side community and with Paul Estridge Jr., a Carmel-based home builder and CICF donor.

Estridge Cos. built a house in Martindale-Brightwood for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in April 2009, and the CEO wanted to do more.

After some minor plumbing work, the building was put to use this summer as a day camp and Goodwill day reporting center for troubled youth. Now the transformation begins.

First comes fundraising. In April, the project received preliminary approval for a $1 million matching grant from United Way of Central Indiana.

The project’s fundraising committee will look to cover remaining expenses through financial and in-kind donations—free or discounted services from vendors—company service projects and an “adopt-a-room” program for businesses, which will allow local companies to get their name on one of the community center's rooms by making a gift, contributing volunteer labor or helping to raise money.

Organizers also are planning a community volunteer day in September.

“We want people to participate in this,” said chief fundraiser Rosemary Dorsa, CICF’s vice president for partnerships and special initiatives.

More than half of the 40,000 square feet of usable space has been rented already, with the Edna Martin Christian Center reserving 16,000 square feet for a child- and senior care and Kingsley Terrace Child Development Center planning to use another 5,000.

Tenant recruiters are in talks with the YMCA about building a fitness center inside as well, said Michael Richardson, School 37 Redevelopment Project manager and CICF staff member. CICF also is negotiating lease options with Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corp., Greater Citizens Coalition of Martindale-Brightwood and Bangladesh-based micro-lender Grameen Bank.

Dorsa and CDC Executive Director Josephine Rogers visited a similar school-turned-community center in San Antonio to get ideas. That facility is occupied by a variety of groups and businesses—the Center for Work & Families, San Antonio Children’s Museum, and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, among others—much like what is planned for School 37, Dorsa explained. Rogers said it served as the “hub of the community,” with art, dancing and singing programs, as well as a computer lab and job-training classes.

It’s a prototype for School 37, but a great deal of work still remains.

First up: A new heating and cooling system, fire suppression equipment and an elevator—for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance—must be installed before tenants can move in, Richardson said. The building’s last major renovation was in 1972.

Ideally, this “functional repurposing” will be complete by fall 2011, said Estridge, whose homebuilding company serves as the project’s unofficial construction consultant and overseer.

Even if the $3 million is raised and redevelopment goes as planned, the center’s long-term survival could remain a question, said David Reingold, professor and executive assistant dean of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Planners must evaluate the long-term operating costs, Reingold said. Often, donors will support construction projects, then assume the center will become self-sufficient, which he said oftentimes isn’t the case.

The responsible solution is to require a “companion gift” like many universities do, he said. When a donor makes a pledge to help construct a building, he also must provide something for continued maintenance.

Dorsa said companion gifts will not be required of School 37 donors. Once the center is fully occupied, the facility is expected to generate enough rental income to cover an estimated $350,000 in annual expenses.

And for the community to grow, the center must survive.

Despite a population of about 9,000, Martindale-Brightwood doesn’t have a place for the community to gather, many sources agreed. A thriving community center also could help improve the neighborhood’s image, Dorsa said.

About 70 percent of the area’s residents over the age of 21 have never attended college, according to a 2000 U.S. Census community profile. The median income is about $25,000.

“When people think about Martindale-Brightwood, they think, ‘Oh, [that’s] where the juvenile center is,’” she said. “That needs to change. And the community center could become that distinguishing figure.”

Its success is key to enabling the community—and businesses within it—to flourish, Estridge said.

“The first thing [the center] does is it stimulates a sense of community,” he said. “For business to thrive, people need to feel that there is a base … a neighborly connection. There isn’t that there today.”

That feeling of ownership is moving to Storey, the 73-year-old neighbor.

“It’s always powerful to say that something is ours,” said Storey, a School 37 alumna who has been asked to serve on the project’s building naming committee. “That is a powerful statement, and we haven’t been able to say that before.

“It’s on a hill,” Storey said of the schoolhouse, which opened in 1927. “And it stands there. And it’s there for us.”

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Public Safety is #1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9....
    If this wasn't owned by the county, I suspect Mayor Ballard would want to transform this old school into a another police station or jail.

    Glad to see someone has more productive reuse suggestions.
  • Excuse me?
    "Despite a population of about 9,000, Martindale-Brightwood doesnâ??t have a place for the community to gather"

    Excuse me but i believe Washington and Douglass Parks are close to this proposed center. And they both have Centers in those parks. No place to gather. Obviously they didn't gather at the school or it wouldn't have been closed.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

ADVERTISEMENT