Neighborhood seeks economic growth, starting with street improvements

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Drivers heading through the area of Central Avenue and Fall Creek Parkway will likely notice new lanes going both directions.

“We wanted to figure out what would be the best way to address the abandonment issues and the street improvements that needed to occur in Mapleton-Fall Creek,” said Leigh Evans, executive director of the Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation.

“There was a high degree of vacant property and several blocks that had streets and sidewalks in desperate need of repair and a need to attract business for economic development,” Evans said.

The development corporation created a steering committee to take those specific ideas and concerns to the Indianapolis City-County Council.

“That area has been growing and developing for a while now and the development corporation reached out to their counselors and to the city for potentially making it a more pedestrian safe and more business driven area,” said Lesley Gordon with the Department of Public Works.

The council passed a resolution and DPW began converting Central Avenue from a one-way to a two-way street between Fall Creek Parkway and 34th Street.

Evans said the change may seem simple, but the new sidewalks and resurfacing make it nicer, and two-way traffic makes it easier for cars to stop in the area rather than speeding through. She said she hopes that will encourage businesses to open up shop there.

“We’ve created an incentive through a tax increment finance we hope will attract businesses,” Evans said. “We’ve sold 20 houses in the last year so there are more residents with discretionary income to spend at those businesses and we are raising the awareness that this is a sweet spot in the community.”

The project will also change portions of 30th, 29th and Ruckle streets from one-way to two-way traffic. There is now a parking lane on one side of Central Avenue.

The Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation is also focusing on putting in more parks and green space.

“I think we will have more a walkable community, people walking dogs, pushing strollers, healthy food options, places where people will sit down and communicate with each other and share their plans for improving the city,” said Evans.