Make your home page

Indianapolis begins demolition of Towne & Terrace condos

Tearing down Towne & Terrace condos

News 8 at 6:00 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On one building after another, signs reading “no trespassing” are hung, and windows and doors are boarded up: The Towne and Terrace condominiums are not what they used to be.

After more than five years of legal battles and more than a decade of public safety issues, the city of Indianapolis this week returned to the demolition of part of the mostly abandoned complex just south of the intersection of 42nd Street and Post Road.

Duane Hester lived here for years until one day he found someone in the side yard: “What made me move, I came out of my door one day, turned the corner and found a dead body. That was my reason to leave.”

Three times in 2018, bodies were found in or near the abandoned housing. Their deaths were determined to be homicides.

Indianapolis says it owns about 70 of the buildings on the property. Back in 2014, the city received a grant to tear the abandon buildings down, but a legal dispute between Towne & Terrace and the city stalled progress. The city ended up demolishing only four units until Thursday, when they began taking down a fifth.

Hester said the tipping point for the complex was a 2008 tornado that hit the east side of Indianapolis.

“Things just kind of went downhill. The damage that was done of the apartments out here, the property owners — every property out here is individually owned. People weren’t doing anything with them. They were just going downhill,” said Hester.

Over the last decade, Towne and Terrace transformed into a complex that was considered almost unlivable. It is more common to see boarded up units than occupied ones.

The city long argued that Towne & Terrace contributed to blight in the area, causing plummeting property values and eating up government money. 

Peggy Hand is fairly new to the area and on Friday likened the complex to her hometown of East Saint Louis in Illinois.

“A lot of them do need to be torn down. I have not gone all the way to the back of the apartment complex because there are issues down on the other end that I do not indulge in. So I think a lot them need to be torn down,” said Hand.

The police and fire departments have been regular visitors to this complex over the years. In June 2018, the city said the following public safety calls had been made to the complex:

  • From 2008 to mid-2013: 2,000 police runs and 465 city and Marion County health department code inspection cases.
  • From 2014 to 2016: 578 police runs. 

Hester said he is sympathetic to those who own and live in their units.

“They should give everyone an ample amount of time to try and remodel or do something different with their properties. If not, do what has to be done, because actually every time I come and leave or turn the TV on someone got killed or something out here,” said Hester.

The city as of Friday had not announced any redevelopment plans for the complex.