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Indiana Avenue strategic plan calls for development proposals to revitalize area

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Descendants, caregivers of Indiana Avenue are partnering with the city of Indianapolis to create a more equitable and prosperous avenue.

Plans were announced Thursday to move forward with an Indiana Avenue strategic plan while openly recognizing the city’s complicity in the trauma caused by urban renewal and praising what this new plan could mean by breathing new life into the avenue.
“First, though, I want to recognize the historical context of this announcement. And the complex role that the city plays,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett while addressing the crows at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum.

The physical history of Indiana Avenue has been widely erased. However, the feeling it gave you still beats in the hearts of descendants like Paula Brooks and Claudia Polley.

“Our schools were gone. Our recreational spaces were gone. Our performance spaces were gone. And all the neighborhood amenities that made this such a wonderful community to grow up in they were all gone,” Brooks said.

For generations, many have hoped to see Indiana Avenue and its nearby communities built back up in a way to honor the past. That wish may finally come true.

“Our work is to help all of you realize the depth, the value and the future of Indiana Avenue,” Polley said.

Hogsett announced the Indiana Avenue strategic plan and is accepting proposals from those wanting to help design what that looks like. Keeping in mind the history while preserving the four residential districts, bringing in business, amenities and affordable housing.

“For years, this Black enclave of commerce and culture, withstood a battery of trials. Coming from their city. Coming from the Statehouse. And coming from some of their neighbors,” Hogsett said.

The Madam Walker Legacy Center, a place many consider the crown jewel of the avenue, is just one of the remaining original buildings after parking lots and campus facilities ate up real estate.

“Even though we don’t have enough buildings left from the past, we have a few. And so, we will protect those few,” Polley said.

The winning proposal will cover a large patch, stretching north to 16th, east to Capital, south to Military Park and west to the White River.

“I am ecstatic about this big bold opportunity to move forward,” Brooks said.