INDIANAPOLIS — Long before the Indianapolis Colts came to town, Lucas Oil Stadium was built and I-70 cut across downtown from east-to-west, there was a near southside neighborhood called Babe Denny where there was a park and businesses and single-family homes.
Downtown development and growth steamrolled Babe Denny, leaving a smattering of houses and businesses and lots of vacant lots and parking for football fans.
“This was kind of a self-contained community,” said Dennis Burton of Goldman Jewelry who has been in the neighborhood for 26 years. “You could work here. You could play here. You could live here and you really didn’t have to go far to get all of your needs met.”
That day may soon be returning as Developer TWG has announced it will soon begin construction of a $58 million apartment and retail complex in the 900 block of South Meridian Street.
There will be 269 units, ranging in size from 562 to 954 square feet with rents running from $1200 to $2100 per month.
Since Tax Increment Financing bonds helped pay for the project, five percent of the units will be reserved for low-income renters.
“I think it’s exciting. I think it will make a much better view,” said Camas Brandt as she cut a client’s hair inside Stranded Salon which will be across the street from the planned apartment building. “I think it will highlight again our diamond-in-the-rough and I know that housing is needed downtown.”
The near southside is one of the last approaches to downtown to benefit from additional investment and tax break advantages.
Designation of the area as a Lift Indy community, along with municipal support, makes the area more attractive to developers.
“It’s pretty crazy to see how vacant and naked it is down here,” said Katie Harris, owner of Iozzo’s Garden of Italy. “This is the last part of the rejuvenation of downtown
“I think it gives people some hope that, ‘Hey, this is finally happening.’”
George Stergiopoulos opened Greek Islands in 1987.
“This is the main thoroughfare to connect to downtown Indianapolis,” he said. “I think you’re gonna see a lot of new storefronts, a lot more apartments, condominiums, that type of thing, and more businesses, too.”
Two new hotels recently opened a block north of the neighborhood and another one is planned for a parking lot across Meridian Street from Shapirio’s Delicatessen.
“It’s definitely not a Mass Avenue or Fountain Square yet, but it’s incrementally gotten better over the years for sure,” said Burton. “Once usually one big development happens, then you get other developers are eyeballing other properties and say, ‘Okay, I can see a vision for this here.’”
TWG expects to begin renting apartments in the complex in the winter of 2023.