Veterans group moving downtown

February 5, 2008
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Hoosier Veterans Assistance FoundationThe Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation is renovating a two-story building near the Central Library to serve as its new headquarters. The not-for-profit group, which now is located at the former Thomson Consumer Electronics/RCA plant on the eastside, is spending about $1.9 million to buy and renovate the building at 964 N. Pennsylvania St., said Ron Shelley, HVAF's director of operations. The 21,000-square-foot building will house offices, meeting rooms, a community mental health clinic, showers and more than 20 sleeping rooms. The building previously was home to Midtown Mental Health, Shelley said. The Foundation hopes to move in Feb. 26. What else is happening in this area?
  • Not to sound cold-hearted, but is building a shelter here on Penn a smart idea? With the library expansion (and probably just as importantly, its inexpensive parking garage), there is a lot potential for independent restaurants, bars and coffee shops all along Penn. Already, you have the Elbow Room, the Abbey, Living Room Lounge, Urban Elements and Datsa Pizza. Restaurants tend to attract other restaurants, and I've hoped that the library might spur more interest along this stretch of Penn.

    Seems to me that developers are likely to look elsewhere if there is a mental health clinic and shelter just a block or two away. I'm not saying the project isn't necessary, but just that there might be better locales that aren't poised for re-birth.
  • Nick, you said pretty much exactly what I was thinking. I know no one wants this in their backyard but it seems like this would make it much harder for this area to take off.
  • I agree with both of you. This will no doubt stunt growthe, we already have the shelter in a row of old buildings downtown, why cant this be somewhere else?
  • Or, in other words, NIMBY, right? Yes, it would be a real shame if somebody actually tried to help our wounded war veterans instead of building yet another ethnic restaurant for your own personal benefit. PFFFTH.
  • I would have preferred that HVAF move south a few blocks to Washington St. instead of east to downtown. It could have been a catalyst for reinvestment on a really crappy part of Washington St. (anywhere between I-65 and Sherman) instead.

    So here's one person who WOULD want it in his backyard.
  • Oops. That would be west to downtown. Geez.
  • So by that logic, wherever there is new growth, there should be no social service agencies? Just keep pushing them out farther? Kind of like special ed in the 60's? If no one sees them, no one will be hurt by them? Mixed income housing and neighborhoods are the preferred demographic for smart growth, but you are now dismissing that for restaurant profits?
  • ^^^CrossedWires, mixed income doesn't include no income. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a homeless shelter isn't good for property values.
  • Most of you guys need to get out of this city and see a real one. Like DC, SF, New York, Atlanta or Chicago. In any good part of these cities you will find some of the best restaurants along with the homeless sitting just out side the door. Try as you might. You are not going to get your Disneyland perfect world of Straight White Young Upper income tattooed hair jelled THIN men and there blonde barbe girlfriends’ wearing BLACK cloths HANGING in an ONTHEEDGE friends TYPE neighborhood.

    Get a life, it’s Indianapolis not soho…..
  • Bob your post could be taken as racist.
    Of course every city has its homeless shelters, its called reality, but this might not be a good location for it. Indianapolis is a real city Bob, its not as big or busy as those cities obviously(and comparing it with them is like comparing oranges and apples) but it is a city( a metro of 2000'000!).
  • CAUTION: economic analysis follows.

    Look, a non-profit is a bad neighbor in a downtown NOT because of the crowd it attracts as much as the fact that their boards don't necessarily make economic decisions (stay or go) on the same economic principles as for-profits. Sometimes history and named gifts are more important deciding factors. I would argue that in sentimental attachment to buildings, non-profit directors are shirking their fiduciary responsibilities as well as their moral responsibilities.

    Let me explain further:

    Non-profits tend to stay embedded in a place (or move to a place) even when market signals are telling less-desirable for-profit businesses (wholesale distribution, scrapyards, etc.) to move out because land is too valuable to devote to that use. There are no factories, no scrapyards and precious few wholesale businesses left downtown. Why is downtown still full of social-service agencies who moved there when rents and building values were low, now that there are far fewer low-income residents to serve inside the inner loop?

    The non-profits could unlock capital and exemplify their social mission by moving to where people need them...and where land and buildings are now cheap. Horizon House, Good News Ministries, the Damien Center, and the Shepherd Center are all between I-65 and Sherman Drive along the Washington St. Corridor, just south of the former RCA plant (itself a subject of a previous blog post). That part of town NEEDS help (as do many of its residents) and non-profit agencies can be the pioneers by buying and reclaiming vacant and under-utilized space, bringing adaptive reuse and increased activity and vitality in the neighborhood.

    It's my backyard, and it would be way better than what we've got. So don't hang the NIMBY tag on me...I WANT the non-profits to come east from downtown.
  • It is good to have this service for our veterans not far from the armory and the American Legion. Not to mention the employees will need to eat. Vacant buildings will kill a neighborhood a lot more than a strip of restaurants w/ some veterans services company especially in a neighborhood thats come so far the last three years, and still can go much further.
  • Horrible news for downtown Indy.
  • This is a important organization doing good work. This looks like an office HQ, not shelter. Please people, think before you type!
  • I agree with cityside and go on to applaud the folks that are putting the services close to the homeless vets who need them.
  • I should add that I have a son who is a Marine and that I am grateful to those who provide services and support for returned veterans who find themselves in need.

    The issue here isn't whether the service is worthwhile or necessary (it definitely is), or whether the people who seek service deserve help (they definitely do). The issue (for me, anyway) is solely location and I believe such service organizations can do far more good in my backyard where people need the services.
  • I lived right across the street from this building when it was Midtown Mental Health (1993). Never ever had a problem with the clients it helped. I'm a vet and I like that they are moving there. The homeless are drawn downtown any way you slice it. Better to have services to meet that need. In fact there was a homeless man who died in the garage stairwell where I work this morning. It was a horrible sight.
  • I think it's an excellent location for them, with the Federal Building nearby. The veterans who need these services should also be in close proximity to the Federal Building, The American Legion and on a bus line that would mean easy access to the VA Hospital as well. In addition, there are a lot of homeless veterans downtown who would likely benefit from the services this agency provides - but not so much in the agency's old location.

    There is every possibility that this agency won't impact additional growth/revitalization activities in that area. If the area is otherwise desirable, the growth will come.
  • Mr. Schouten, I am humbled by your wisdom. Do you know if there is any reuse plan in the works for the old central library building? (used to be city hall before that).
  • adam do you mean the old city hall near the city market?
    Yeah I'm curious about that too.

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