For nearly two decades, Lloyd Tucker quietly plied his trade as a pioneer in urban redevelopment. Lloyd passed away recently and I was especially moved as I recalled his passionate and determined efforts to make a lasting mark on the city of Indianapolis. He succeeded.
I met Lloyd in the early 1980s when he was an expert in economic development and housing finance at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In this capacity he helped me and former BOS Community Development Corp. President Ken Morgan gain an understanding of the financing requirements for our ambitious efforts along Indiana Avenue. He was impressed at our efforts to involve more minority-owned construction companies in the renovation of the famed Walker Building. This relationship was solidified when the Walker Theatre renovation was overseen by African-American entrepreneur Jimmy Beard, owner of J. Beard Co. Lloyd also advised us on financing structures for two other new office buildings on Indiana Avenue, 500 Place and Walker Plaza, which were completed not long after the Walker Building.
Not long after that, Tucker became vice president of finance for the Sexton Cos. Sexton had worked with several stakeholders to develop and implement a controversial compromise plan, which saw the renovation of seven of the original 24 buildings of the historic Lockefield Gardens project integrated into a redevelopment plan. Lockefield was the first public housing project in Indiana and, unlike later such efforts, it was highly successful and was a model for apartment living for persons of any income level. Lloyd successfully negotiated leases for the commercial space at Lockefield Gardens [and] several minority-owned firms benefited. These leases were fair and in some cases loaded toward the back end, so that these small enterprises could pay more as they grew. Lloyd felt that the best way to help the community thrive was to insure that small businesses had a chance to survive and to grow.
For those of us who can remember, the transformation at Fall Creek Place and the housing efforts that are adjacent to Fall Creek are quite remarkable. The neighborhood had all but been abandoned, crime and urban decay were the rule, formerly grand houses had been cut up into substandard units, often being rented by the week or by the day. Lloyd saw beyond the decay and what stands today is a solid urban neighborhood, championed by a man with rare talent and a unique vision.
Lloyd Tucker taught me and others to have faith that cities can be livable. He also helped numerous small and minority-owned businesses grow and develop. Not many people understand the gifts that Lloyd left for us. I do.
Charles M. Blair
Charles Blair Associates