Three Indianapolis neighborhood organizations win awards at sixth annual Neighbor Power Indy

Left to Right: Nita McCormick-INRC, David Buchanan, Sibeko Jywanza-INRC, Peter Marbaugh, Judith Essex, James Shepardson, Maury Plambeck-INRC,
Kneeling: Peter Kunz

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC) announced that three Indianapolis neighborhoods have won Neighbor Power Indy Awards. The awards were presented today at the sixth annual Neighbor Power Indy event.

The Old Southside Neighborhood Association received the Building Local Economy award for its Property Showcase last year. After a series of meetings with state and local officials about abandoned houses and vacant commercial properties, the Old Southside Neighborhood Association created a property showcase to market these properties. Among the invitees to the showcase included developers, investors and potential homeowners. More than 130 people attended the showcase, far exceeding expectations. Since the property showcase, there has been a noticeable increase in renovations. At least ten houses have been demolished and an equal amount sold. Two hotels and three apartments buildings are in the planning stages and HGTV’s “Two Chicks and a Hammer” have purchased two houses on Meridian Street. 

The Greater Twin Aire Area received the Connecting Community award. Assembled by Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND), the Greater Twin Aire Area neighbors laid out a plan for their community’s future development. This process involved several neighborhoods, partners, and funders, including five neighborhood associations, Citizens Energy, Kroger, Southeast Community Services, and SEND. These efforts have resulted in bringing much needed attention to the area by playing a part in securing a Promise Zone designation, a federal Economic Development Administration grant, commercial improvements, community development, and the Great Places 2020 designation. It also contributed to the area’s selection as a site for the Law and Justice Center, which will bring more than $500 million in investment to an area that less than three years ago was unknown to most people in Indianapolis. 

Ransom Place Neighborhood Association received the Inspiring Places award. Ransom Place Neighborhood Association, Inc., was awarded a greenspace grant from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and Indianapolis Power & Light to transform a small, triangular grassy lot it owned into an outdoor classroom for all of Indianapolis. Residents met over a period of six months to craft an appropriate design. With residents eventually deciding historic images of area residents and structures was the best way to engage the public, the park features a small raised deck, seating for events and a decorative rosetta of commemorative bricks. A dedication ceremony was held on June 17, 2016. The park is now a gateway along the Cultural Trail to help expose the public to the civic value of the area’s African-American heritage and provide a place for community events.

Award recipients also will receive a monetary award.

The Indianapolis Resource Center (INRC), through facilitation, training and coaching, strengthens the capacity of neighborhood-based organization and neighbors to mobilize existing assets, support grassroots leadership and foster collaboration. INRC was established in 1994 as a private, non-profit organization.

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*Submitted from the Old Southside Neighborhood

It started in late 2015 when the Old Southside Neighborhood Association Board of Directors began serious discussions with City Councilor Jeff Miller, State Representative Justin Moed and Lisa Laflin, Neighborhood Advocate about the many abandoned and vacant houses and commercial property in the neighborhood.  This was an election year and both candidates for Mayor seemed to focus on the abandoned house issue and the media was discussing the topic frequently.  It seemed like a good time to start a movement in the Old Southside.

With our close proximity to downtown, we had plenty of homes that could be renovated, providing affordable housing for urban individuals and young families.  In addition, there is commercial and industrial property available with direct rail and highway access.  What seems so obvious for both residential and commercial development was not getting the attention of the city or developers.  So we decided to market the Old Southside ourselves.

Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center [INRC] announced a pilot program for their Indianapolis Community Building Institute [ICBI] and invited the neighborhoods to participate.  The Old Southside had six neighbors sign up for the six-month course.  At our third class we learned that we would receive some grant money to help with the project.

The date was set for June 25, 2016.  For the Property Showcase we would invite developers, investors and potential homeowners.  We wanted to have an upscale event and provide lunch.  Sacred Heart Parish Hall at 1125 S. Meridian Street  which is centrally located in our neighborhood was secured.  Pre-registered visitors would be greeted at a registration table as they entered the large hall.

To our amazement we had over 130 visitors to our event.  It was exactly the group we wished to attract, developer, investors and potential homeowners.  Nine months later, we are seeing a slow but steady increase in renovations with more and more inquires about available property.

Receiving the Building Local Economy Award from Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center is quite an honor.  This project was a good example of what neighborhoods can do for themselves.