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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Neighbors living on 10th Street on the city’s near east side want to share their story — they are proud of it.
They said the chapters are full of challenges and hard work, dedication and compassion. They said their work over the past two decades is paying off.
“For the longest, they just called it the hood, the swamp,” Charles Lovelady said. Lovelady owns Chuck’s Coney Island and the Classic Cuts Barber Shop on 10th Street. “People are calling it the neighborhood now.”
Lovelady said people are proud of to live in the community, and it shows.
“When you got a neighborhood and people take pride in where they stay and you know, grass you see people with lawns being manicured now, people pick up trash off the street,” Lovelady said. “That’s really good to me.”
Lovelady opened his barbershop in 2013. He said the idea for Chuck’s Coney Island came after he noticed the bus stop across the street, and saw a need.
“Being at the barbershop, seeing a bus stop right across the street, days it be cold, people standing in the rain, they don’t have no where to eat, however it may be,” Lovelady said.
So, he and his son opened the coney island shop, which also pays homage to Detroit where he is from. Lovelady wants his businesses to be a safe place where people feel comfortable.
“It’s like the heartbeat,” Lovelady said. “Everybody come in the barbershop. They vent their problems, like a priest, they talk to people and just change their view and look on life.”
The 10th street corridor is the city’s latest Lift Indy grant recipient. Over the next three years, $3.5 million dollars will go into this community to help with revitalization. But, James Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of John Boner Neighborhood Centers, said this is just some of the millions of dollars coming into this near east side area.
At the end of last year, the community received a $4.3 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to invest in projects involving the arts and revitalization. They also received a Department of Justice grant to help the community put together a safety plan. Once the DOJ approves the plan, the city will receive an additional $700,000 to implement it.
“Part of the plan is looking at enforcement activities, it’s looking at intervention activities and it’s also looking at prevention activities,” Taylor said. “So trying to get at the issue from a holistic lens is what we’re attempting to do.”
Next spring, the city begins work on a $5 million infrastructure plan to improve the area of 10th street to the intersection of Rural Street and south to St. Clair Street.
“Being walkable, bikeable, accessible, having safe sidewalks to be able to traverse, good streets and roads is just kind of a central, basic ingredient that helps the development and encourages private investment along the corridor,” Taylor said.
Taylor reminds everyone this neighborhood is full of people who want to keep moving toward a brighter future.
“If you use the analogy of cloth, this community has a high thread count in terms of the relationships that neighbors have built with each other,” Taylor described. “Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of friendship, sometimes out of needing to lean into each other. I think it’s just made this neighborhood amazingly resilient.”
Fifteen years ago, Taylor said a group of 400 neighbors came together to collaborate on a plan.
“I think we just kind of lost our mojo as a community to be honest with you,” Taylor said. “In 2005, the community came together and created a task force that eventually led to creating the community’s quality of life plan. It was really at that point in time that we really began to take control of our own destiny as a neighborhood.”
Taylor and Lovelady agreed, with dedication and hard work, neighbors can certainly take back their communities.
“It is within you to make change happen within your community, it is within you to make your community thriving, vibrant, beautiful,” Taylor said.