By: Donald Perin
The Butler Tarkington neighborhood is targeted for redevelopment and revitalization by the neighborhood collective Midtown Indianapolis’ 2010 master plan.
Midtown Indianapolis is a collection of neighborhood associations from Ivy Tech Community College north to Broad Ripple, and from the Indiana Museum of Art east to Keystone Avenue.
The Alice Carter Park, located at the intersection of Meridian Street and Westfield Boulevard, is one of three highlighted areas in the neighborhood already under construction.
The area of Illinois Street between 40th Street and 38th Street and the intersection of Illinois Street and 38th Street are also part of Midtown Indy’s master plan.
These areas are catalyst node areas that have been selected as important transportation centers in the city; however these are not the only places in Butler Tarkington that will see redevelopment through Midtown’s master plan.
The neighborhood as a whole will see change, said Midtown Indy President Kathy Shorter.
Midtown Indy Executive Director Michael McKillip added that there are around 30 to 50 projects throughout Midtown that they hope to work on over 25 or more years, but the three areas are the main focus in Butler Tarkington.
Midtown’s master plan focuses around four principles: promotion, policy, planning and projects.
Promotion includes promoting local businesses and encourages residents and visitors to eat and shop locally.
Policy means working with the city and private interests to improve transportation in Midtown, encouraging economic development and collaborating with Federal, State and local government officials.
The planning portion focuses on holding envisioning sessions in order to receive public input.
Finally, the projects part includes redevelopment and renovation projects throughout Midtown, including the catalyst areas in Butler Tarkington.
The three catalyst areas in Butler Tarkington were chosen because, after taking public opinion, the community feels they have the potential to become more community friendly and more visually attractive than in their current state.
The renovations to Alice Carter Park, which began in August, will include a children’s playground area, a picnic area and a paved multi-purpose area that can be used for community events or for additional play space for children.
What is included in redevelopment along Illinois Street and the intersection of Illinois Street and 38th Street will be determined by the community’s voice.
“I’d like to see more commercial businesses, small shops and restaurants, some apartments would also be nice,” said Marcus Veatch, a Butler Tarkington resident. “We try to help the small local businesses, the more of those businesses we get, the better.”
“The 38th street area has moved towards chain-types or fast food developments, pawn shops and such,” McKillip said. “Residents said there’s no diversity in availability of food. We want to see the businesses that residents will utilize. We’re looking for mixed use development.”
The Midtown Indy master plan states that the Illinois Street and 38th Street intersection has the potential to be both a destination area in the city, which will attract people from all over the city, but also a significant employment center.
The master plan suggests that this new employment center, and others around Midtown, will adopt its own style which will create diversity for residents.
Redeveloping the area commercially and residentially will make it a draw, but the redevelopment of Tarkington Park, just north of 38th Street, will also be an attraction, said John Williams, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
“We want to offer a variety of amenities, we want people to go out and enjoy the park and the neighborhood,” Williams said.
The Midtown master plan addresses reasons for redevelopment such as 13 percent decrease in population between 1990 and 2009, an increase in vacant houses and poor and crumbling infrastructure.
The master plan states that residents of Midtown need to invest in their community before decline in Midtown’s neighborhoods becomes too much for the marketplace to overcome.
If Midtown Indy received a federal grant, most federal programs require that that money be spent in the areas of most dire need, Shorter said.
“We’re kind of at a catch-22,” Shorter said, “where that’s not really a tool that will be available to us unless we let our area completely decline first, and nobody thinks that’s a good idea.”
Buildings along the stretch of Illinois Street and the 38th and Illinois Street intersection have become underused, according to Michael McKillip.
“There are gaps where areas have been left empty by people and businesses moving to the suburbs,” McKillip said.
The community does not want to see more check cashing businesses, pawn shops, or gas stations move into the area, according to Jeremy Stewart, president of the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association.
“We would like to see some more dense development, some apartments or condos,” Stewart said. “We need retailers that cater to the entire demographic of the neighborhood, which is really spread out. A casual meeting place, a coffee shop, a medium or higher end grocery, and little boutique shops with specialty items.”
Business owners along Illinois Street also want to see redevelopment in the area.
“I’d love to see a more developed and revitalized area,” said Cheryl Spencer-Harmon, owner of Costumes by Margie located along Illinois Street. “One of the main things is that there be some environmental aspect to the redevelopment. I’d like to see some kind of café or deli, something more retail oriented. Something not service or bar oriented.”
“I’ve been in this neighborhood since I was a little kid,” said David Anderson, branch manager of the Ace Hardware store on Illinois Street. “This is one of the main intersections closest to Butler. We would like to encourage economic growth in this neighborhood, and good businesses bring that type of customer.”
“Talk is cheap,” Anderson added, “everybody’s got a plan, to implement it is the thing.”
The most essential part of the Midtown master plan is to make living in Midtown a more rational choice for families than to moving to the suburbs, according to John Barth, City-County councilman at-large and Butler Tarkington resident.
Redevelopment through Midtown’s master plan will be funded by a tax increment finance district, or TIF district, once it is passed by the City-County Council
TIF Districts operate by taking an area designated for redevelopment and setting a baseline for the amount of property taxes generated by that area. Once the TIF is implemented, any money over the baseline, generated by an increase in property values and property taxes, goes directly towards paying for redevelopment.
Midtown Indy could take out a multi-million dollar bond to pay for redevelopment, and once the TIF generates money from redevelopment then that money goes towards paying for the bond, McKillip said.
He added that with the federal government cutting back on spending there is less federal money to be had which is why the TIF district is so important, it bridges the gap created by a lack of investment.
A larger TIF district will bring in more money, according to Jeremy Stewart, and development companies will be more attracted to a project if there is a TIF district generating a large amount of money.
Stewart added that since the TIF money goes towards paying back money on bonds and loans, if the TIF generates more money than needed for those payments then the excess money would fund other redevelopment projects.
The Metropolitan Development Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the Midtown TIF on Nov. 26; however the hearing was delayed by the committee until Monday, December 10.
The North United Methodist Church, located on the corner of 38th Street and Meridian Avenue, owns land between Meridian Avenue and Illinois Street, excluding the Ace Hardware store and Sierra Flowers shop along Illinois Street.
The church would like to redevelop that land, however the congregation members are uncertain of what exactly they will do, according to Brian Williams, pastor of mission and outreach at the church.
“We’ve heard that this area is important,” Williams said, “it’s a gateway to the north and south of the mid-north area. And it’s important that people have options and opportunities along that area. The area needs some kind of economic development allotted, something that can affect people’s lifestyles. We’ve heard a little bit of everything from a senior center or a job development place.”
The church’s urban use land task force committee is working to put together a proposition for redevelopment and present it to church’s board of directors, according to Williams.
Incoming search terms:
- midtown indianapolis master plan
- Butler university indianapolis comprehensive plan
- restaurants butler tarkington area
- picnic place at butler university indianapolis
- midtown gpvernment program indianapolis
- marcus veatch indianapolis
- marcus veatch indiana donor
- john barth midtown
- houses for rent in butler tarkington neighborhood
- history of butler tarkington park indianapolis