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Affordable housing for artists coming to south-side neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS - A south-side neighborhood plagued with vacant homes will soon see some new life.

Big Car Collaborative is renovating a handful of homes in the Garfield Park neighborhood with two of them becoming available next month for artists.

Co-founder Jim Walker said his organization was able to purchase the properties thanks to financial assistance through the
Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Project, which looks for innovative ways to put Indianapolis residents into homes.

"It was a type of revitalization that was needed," said Garfield Park Neighborhood Association president Ed Mahern. "Especially east of Shelby Street where there were a number of vacant houses."

While artists can purchase the home at an affordable price, they are expected to get involved in the neighborhood. The neighborhood will hold art walks on the block that take place during the first Friday of each month, where businesses at the west end of the neighborhood will all be open.

"It's got people who are not only doing art or working with the community they are really trying to be part of making this a great place for everybody," Walker said.

The majority of the homes are along Cruft Street, including the two that artists can apply for and move into next month. The remaining homes are one block south along Nelson Street. Artists interested in applying to be a homeowner can click here.

Artists will be able to work from their home or from a community center, called the Tube Factory, located in the same neighborhood.

"An art village on a block," Walker said about the development. "Where the art space we have here is connected to the house the artists live in and the houses are being setup where you have a small studio space, or space in the garage."

The community art space will be used for commissioned projects and has a workshop that can be used by artists and residents in the neighborhood after completing a training course.

"It they want to have an event or project, they can host it in this space because it's designed for events and it's very flexible," Walker said about the Tube Factory, which already has a couple art exhibits on display. "There's also a shop down there so they can build something or work with someone else to build something. They don't have to rent tools over and over again or buy studio space over and over again. We collaborate to make that happen here."

Not only will the artists have the ability to work and live in the same neighborhood, but they won't be far away from Fountain Square and artistic institutions.

"We're right in the middle of a lot of good things that are going on," said Walker.

Applications for the two homes have only been accepted for the past two weeks, 25 people have applied so far.

A committee, which includes at least one current neighborhood resident, will select the applicants.

Other homes are expected to become available late summer. Rental properties are also in the works for artists who want to live in the neighborhood but aren't quite ready for home ownership.