Indy’s Near Eastside | Money Sense, Feb. 2012

A Lasting Legacy

Super Bowl XLVI presents an opportunity to renew the near eastside

Indy’s near eastside neighborhood began a renaissance of renewal in 2007. For five hours one Saturday morning, 420 residents and local leaders met to address concerns facing their faltering neighborhood.

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James Taylor is CEO of the John H. Boner Community Center, a focal point of the Near Eastside Legacy Project.

In 2004, the neighborhood’s ZIP code led the nation in home foreclosures, says James Taylor, CEO of the John H. Boner Community Center. Residents wanted to reclaim their community and help sketch an ambitious plan for revival.

The plan gained momentum as the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee utilized the energy around the event to move the social agenda of Indianapolis forward, Taylor explains.

“The Host Committee was attracted to the mission on the near eastside, not only because of the need, but also because of the remarkable neighborhood leadership that had proven itself in the process of devising a strategic plan for the redevelopment of the neighborhood,” says Mark Miles, chairman of the board of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee and president and CEO of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

The near eastside initiatives gained impetus with the initial NFL Super Bowl Legacy Grant of $1 million. The funds were to be matched locally to renovate, expand or build a youth center to have a lasting impact on the community.

But the Host Committee had a much broader vision than establishing one community youth center. So with visionary leadership and residents’ buy-in, the project blossomed, true Indy-style.

“Indianapolis has a remarkable track record for being inclusive and engaging our citizens when we focus on big goals, and Indianapolis people respond,” Miles says.

Tony Mason, senior vice president of the Host Committee, expresses great pride in the accomplishments of the Near Eastside Legacy Project.

“We know people will benefit for decades after the game,” he says.

Breaking it down
As of December 2011, the Near Eastside Legacy Project garnered approximately $154 million to start transforming the quality of life for 38,000 residents in 21 distinct neighborhoods.

“We have always had a strong conviction that near eastside residents really are resident experts,” says Joe Bowling, Legacy Project community builder for the Boner Center.

From the beginning, residents and local organizations created a collective vision, and now they play lead roles in implementing it.

“In our way of thinking, that’s the only way for this work to be long lasting and sustainable,” Bowling says.

A closer look at the Legacy Project

From education and fitness programs to housing and business development, the Super Bowl is helping pave the way for a revived and promising community.

Here’s a look at some of the improvements so far.

Youth education and fitness
For the first time in Super Bowl Legacy history, a youth center has been completed before game day. The Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center opens Feb. 7 on Arsenal Technical High School’s campus.

This $11.2 million, 27,000-square-foot facility houses the NFL’s Youth Education Center and offers cultural programs for children and families and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The LEED-certified building also includes a 1,000-square-foot greenhouse.

Housing redevelopment

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A Legacy home on the near eastside.

Prior to the Legacy Project’s beginning, 40 percent of the homes and lots in St. Clair, one of the near eastside’s neighborhoods, were vacant. Community partners acquired nearly 200 of these to renovate and build affordable and quality housing units.

These efforts have left a positive impact on the community with new and repaired homes and apartments for all income levels and efficiency upgrades on more than 800 houses.

Area green space has been improved as well with 2,876 trees planted as a result of the 2012 Trees initiative, which aimed to plant 2,012 trees before the Super Bowl.

Business and economic development
The East 10th Street Business Association and its partners facilitated the revamp of existing businesses and new commercial and mixed-use facilities in the 10 East Business District.

This included planning five development projects, recruiting eight new retail businesses, providing businesses with technical assistance, making five commercial façade improvements, and creating 30 new jobs in the last two years.

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Vacant no more: Local entrepreneurs Tim Harmon and Julie Crow will soon open Tim & Julie’s Another Fine Mess at 2901 E. 10th St.

Tim & Julie’s Another Fine Mess, an antique salvage store, joins a number of growing businesses, including the Little Green Bean Boutique, a children’s resale shop; Pogue’s Run Grocer, Indianapolis’ first food cooperative; Made for Each Other community art space; and Metta Yoga Initiative.

In an effort to enhance public safety and quality of life for near eastside residents, the former IPS School 97 is slated to become a headquarters for the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Special events
To continue the growth of the Near Eastside Legacy Project, events like arts and crafts fairs, home tours and open houses, 5K and neighborhood run/walks, and health fairs are promoting healthier lifestyles.

Already, Team Legacy participants –– high school students and senior citizens trained by neighborhood resident Tessie Lloyd-Jones –– were empowered to complete the 2011 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Finish Line 500 Festival 5K.

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