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Vacant furniture store to be transformed into cultural hub on northwest side

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Members of the Indy International Marketplace Coalition are bringing dozens of cultures together under one roof by creating the Global Village Welcome Center near Lafayette Square Mall.

Executive director Mary Clark told News 8 the welcome center will highlight diversity in the community.

“As our new immigrant brothers and sisters started moving into Indianapolis, they settled in this area. This community has embraced them and there’s no better way of showing people and teaching people that we can get along, and it doesn’t matter what we look like,” said Clark.

The coalition bought a vacant Value City Furniture store at 4233 Lafayette Road they plan to transform into the Global Village. It will serve as a hub for people to experience many cultures in one place through a demonstration kitchen, dance studio, a gift shop and a museum displaying artifacts from different continents.

“We have enough artifacts to fill about 2,000 square feet of just Asia,” said Clark. “We can do Asia maybe three times because we have a lot of artifacts from Asia, but then we can fill Africa and Europe. “

Indy’s International Marketplace Coalition said there is still a need for donations of artifacts from the U.S. and South America.

Muhammed Abashaar manages Al-Rayan restaurant. He said they serve Yemeni cuisine seven days a week and he is looking forward to the Global Village coming soon.

“I see new people every day in my restaurant, and I would love them to know about Yemeni culture. And I think the global village is a great opportunity for them to know us,” Abashaar said.

The Global Village will also have an event space and stage to host events, including the 14th Annual Taste the Difference Festival.

“Imagine walking around in one place and sampling foods from all over the world. We’re up to almost 30 restaurants that participate in that event, and it’s not just the food. You get some culture and education; it’s a great event,” Clark said.

Mikerson Joseph, owner and executive chef of Bon Appetit, a Haitian restaurant, thinks the new facility will help revitalize the area and improve sales.

“I’m doing pretty well. The restaurant — everybody loves the food and they love what I do,” Joseph said. “Everyone comes and are happy about it and that makes me happy.”

The Global Village Welcome Center is expected to be open in April or May of 2020.