LAWRENCE, Ind. - The City of Lawrence is working to transform areas known for crime. The changes are being made right now, and city leaders are increasing security in spots around the city considered to be dangerous.
The area of 42nd Street and Post Road is on the radar for change.
“That area of our city has been an area that’s been a hot spot for us,” said Mayor Steve Collier. “Once the Fort closed, that availability or that demand went away, so that area began to go downhill.”
The hot spot for crime has caught the attention of developer Daniel Penn. He may live in California, but he’s visited Lawrence to see what it’s all about. He says he’s fed up and ready to do something about it.
“When we bought Maison Gardens while we were doing the due diligence, the school buses were dropping off their kids and you’d see these kids running over to these abandoned buildings right next door. You go ballistic,” said Penn.
Penn already added better lighting, gates and cameras to increase security at Maison Gardens. Since then, Collier says police have started to see a downward trend in crime.
“We have a pretty good way of finding out who it is,” said Collier, “So, we’re dispelling crime over there.”
Penn also bulldozed the 42nd Street Studio apartments, which has a reputation for drugs and prostitution. The decision now makes way for a possible grocery store.
“The city can’t do it by itself,” said Penn. “It’s like trying to get your kids to do something, you know, they have to take ownership as well and property owners, not all, but some are behaving like spoiled kids.”
Penn calls the neglect of properties he’s seen borderline criminal.
“This is no different than living in a neighborhood, your own neighborhood,” said Penn. “You want to have good relations with your neighbors. Our neighbors in this area are pretty much commercial or multi-family owners and they need to realize the time for neglecting their properties is over.”
The Post Road Laundromat is just minutes away from Penn’s properties. It used to be a bar and a target for crime. The city is also building a new police station located on Post Road. It's an example Collier hopes shows these changes will continue.
“Part of my responsibility is to get people to invest in other parts of the city that maybe aren’t so attractive to other people,” said Collier.
Mayor Collier says he looks forward to the Purple Line bus rapid transit system that will travel along Post Road. He sees that bringing more economic development to the area. That’s expected in 2022.