West side eyesore to become an asset to area families

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The city of Indianapolis took on the old Central State Hospital site in the early 1990’s, Now families living around the west side’s long-time eyesore should expect to see several multi-million dollar investments made into their community. City officials say plans for a K through 12 school and senior living facility are nearly finalized.

“Ninety-four percent of our kids are on free or reduced lunch,” said Carey ‪Dahncke, Christel House Academy Director, who will oversee the second school.‬

‪Dahncke said the global nonprofit, nationally recognized for its success with kids in high need areas, has grown out of its space at its current location, and they have more than 300 kids on their waiting list. ‬

“I was kind of nervous. I didn’t think they’d get in,” said Jeff Davis, Jr., a Christel House Academy parent.

The project will also include a tuition free high school for adults. Christel House is waiting on Charter approval now that the city has donated several acres.

“It puts a significant anchor of excellence in the neighborhood, and the end goal is a $12 to $14 million complex,” said Adam Thies, Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development Director.

City officials are also talking about building a city park that would serve the school and the nearby community as well as some needed infrastructure.

“There are issues related to public safety. Open buildings become open targets,” said Thies, who still said some of the vacant, boarded up buildings could be rehabbed.

Thies said the idea is to redefine what it means to live on the west side with new development on the rare and massive underused site which could also be home to commercial space and new housing.

“If Christel House has families wanting to move here because they want to send their kids to that school, that’s a positive for us,” said Diane Arnold, Hawthorne Community Center Director.

“We want to work with inner city families and give them a truly first class education,” said Dahncke.

Christel House and the senior living facility developer have plans to break ground on the site this summer.

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