City breaks ground on $6.8M Old Southside infrastructure project

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As part of the Lift Indy program, Indianapolis is investing $6.8 million into infrastructure improvements for the Old Southside neighborhood.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and community leaders on Wednesday held a ceremonial groundbreaking in the neighborhood along South Meridan Street, where the area is set to be transformed with a multi-use path, upgraded traffic signals for cyclists and cars, and improvements to stormwater infrastructure. The construction project will also include raised crosswalks—which are intended to slow traffic speeds—as well as bike paths and on-street parking.

Construction should be completed in 2023. The Old Southside neighborhood is bounded by South Street on the north, Madison Avenue to the east, the CSX Railroad line and Adler Street to the south, and the White River to the west.  

Sarah Roberts, a board member of the Old Southside Neighborhood Association, said construction of Interstate 70 in the 1970s harmed the historic community.

“The construction of I-70 damaged our neighborhood, displaced far too many of our residents and split our neighborhood into two: north of 70 and south of 70. We hear it in conversation all the time,” Roberts said. “Although this update will not replace what was lost during that time in the Old Southside, it is one step forward to providing care and protection to our residents.”

Hogsett acknowledged the divide the interstate created.

“Investments like today, and transformative projects like this one that we’ve announced, hopefully will bring us back together, reconnect neighborhoods with neighborhoods, and make the quality of place and the quality of life in the Old Southside as good as it can possibly be,” Hogsett said.

Another project backed by tax increment financing, Rise on Meridian, also was discussed at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. Construction is underway for the $58 million, 269-unit TWG Development LLC project at 915 S. Meridian. To comply with TIF requirements, 5% of apartments will be reserved for residents making 30% of the area median income.

The development received $6.5 million in developer-backed TIF bonds from the Old Southside TIF district, which was approved in July 2019. The project is also receiving $2.5 million in tax credits from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Apartments will be available early 2024, said Chase Smith, vice president of market-rate development at TWG.

Lift Indy directs two grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to specific neighborhoods for affordable housing, placemaking, infrastructure and other quality of life improvements. The Old Southside was designated a Lift Indy neighborhood in 2018, with the city making a $4 million commitment to the area.

At the time, it was just the second Lift Indy neighborhood. Today, there are seven: Monon 16, the Old Southside, Near North, Martindale-Brightwood, Mid-North and the Far Eastside.

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