Revitalization plan brings new homes to Crown Hill area

A subsidized, 15-home project under way in the Crown Hill neighborhood aims to help spur a revitalization of the area.

The not-for-profit Near North Development Corp. this month is wrapping up construction on the first property, a 1,600-square-foot, four-bedroom home at 3154 N. Kenwood Ave., just northwest of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

The project is funded by $488,000 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants targeting blighted neighborhoods that were funneled to the city of Indianapolis.

“The 3154 Kenwood property is one house out of a community of new homeowners that’s really creating significant improvements in that area for affordable homeownership,” Near North President Michael Osborne said. “Creating a real estate market where one doesn’t exist—that’s the point of what we’re doing.”

Near North is acting as master developer of the 15 homes. Near North will build four of the homes, while partner Habitat for Humanity will construct eight and rehab one. Mitchell & Sons Construction will rehab two vacant homes.

Osborne said the 3154 Kenwood project cost more than $185,000 to build. The house is listed for sale at $93,000, but optional upgrades like a two-car garage could add $8,000 to the price. The HUD funding will make up the shortfall.

Most of the 15 homes are in a nine-square-block area in the southern part of the neighborhood along Capitol Avenue and Kenwood and Graceland avenues.

Workers months ago began demolishing properties that were too dilapidated to rehab and launched renovations of others that were empty or abandoned.

The 15 home-project is Near North’s latest push to reinvigorate the area. The effort started in 2011, and by the end of this year, the organization will have developed 51 new homes for affordable homeownership, adding more than $5 million in housing stock.

"I’ve seen a lot of improvements in the neighborhood,” said Eboni Hearn-Lindsey, who bought one of those homes nearly a year ago. “New houses are going up and the houses that are boarded up are either being torn down or renovated.”

Hearn-Lindsey lives in a two-story house near 32nd Street and Kenwood Avenue. She previously lived in Carmel.

“I was paying almost double (her mortgage) for a two-bedroom apartment in Carmel,” Hearn-Lindsey said. “Now, I am living in a three-bedroom house and able to afford my mortgage.”

Houses like the Kenwood Avenue property on the open market could fetch upward of $175,000, Osborne said.

Near North is beginning construction on the second of its four houses, at 3201 Graceland Ave. It might start on its third this month.

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