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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

1 year in, Lift Indy part of larger development
initiative in Martindale-Brightwood

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Christopher Lang keeps hearing if he just waits five more years, things will be different in his Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood. It’s not that Lang is an impatient guy — he’s lived in the area his whole life — but he said he’s tired and done.

Lang, 57, grew up here and got his home on East 29th Street when his mother died about 12 years ago. He grew up playing in the streets with other children.

Some 40 years ago, people valued their property and respected neighbors, Lang said. That’s all changed; there’s too much violence now.

“I’m at the age where I would like to sit in my backyard and be comfortable,” he said, “but I’m fearful it might be a shooting.”

Lang, who renovates houses, is upgrading his home now and preparing to sell it. He still has to put on a new roof and gutters, update the flooring, add a new backsplash in the kitchen and other projects, but he’s hoping to be done and gone in the next 18 months.

The people telling Lang to hang around for another five years might be on to something. The section of Martindale-Brightwood he lives in was designated in February 2021 as one of the city’s Lift Indy neighborhoods.

Lift Indy is a community development program that’s part of the Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD). The neighborhood will get about $3.5 million in investments to help current homeowners and get more people into homeownership.

DMD officials said the first year of the program is spent organizing with neighborhood groups. In the case of Martindale-Brightwood, organizations leading the projects are Edna Martin Christian Center, the local community development corporation and Renew Indianapolis.

The second year — which in Martindale-Brightwood will technically start in April — is when most activity happens, said Jennifer Fults, who manages the department’s Division of Community Investments. The third and final year of the program is spent putting finishing touches on projects.

Announced projects:

• A construction program to create homeownership opportunities for 10 low-income families.
• A home repair program to help longtime residents upgrade things such as roofing, siding, insulation and patios.
• An initiative to provide wraparound services such as employment and career coaching.
• A mortgage refinance program to allow longtime residents to stay where they are.
• A mortgage program to make homeownership more attainable for up to 10 low- to moderate-income households.

As of October 2021, Fults said there were about 30 people enrolled in the wraparound services program, and three homeowners had repairs completed. Renew Indianapolis, which is building 10 homes for low-income families, has plans for seven homes as of now, Fults said, and construction should start this year.

Other developments in Martindale-Brightwood

The larger Martindale-Brightwood area will also look different in the coming years because of other initiatives, including a special taxing district that will use property taxes generated by new development to fund affordable housing and infrastructure.

The tax district, known as a housing tax increment finance district, or HOTIF, encompasses portions of the Hillside neighborhood.

A HOTIF, which is outlined in state law, dictates property taxes that come from improvements to land in the area go toward the fund. The department expects the district to generate $200,000 annually.

The DMD will also soon start interviewing developers for ideas related to the former Colonial Bakery maintenance facility, a 1.3-acre plot of land along Winthrop Avenue on the west side of the Monon Trail.

The site is part of the city’s “25th and Monon” vision plan, which calls for lower-density, single-family housing.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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