A few years ago, several volunteers began the process of creating a 10 year strategic plan for Woodruff Place. This first-of-its kind plan for the new millenia set the course for infrastructure investments that eventually became some of the guiding ideas for our Economic Improvement District (EID). Leaders identified investment budgets for our five primary historic infrastructure assets: Town Hall, 10th Street Fence, Statues & Urns, Fountains and Streetlights. The estimated total for this work was set at $832,900 by 2023.
Looking back at the goals established in that plan and marking each major achievement along the way is mirroring the larger revitalization process throughout the Near Eastside. Woodruff Place is but a single neighborhood of the 18 or so neighborhoods that make up what is known as the Near Eastside. The borders stretch from the interstate 65/70 interchange on the west, the railroad tracks on the south side of Washington Street, Emerson to the east and interstate 70 to the north. That’s a large area with a population of about 30,000 residents. In the time since the early strategic plan, the Near Eastside Quality of Life plan, which lead to the Indianapolis Super Bowl Legacy Project, Near Eastsiders have been witness to a dramatic improvement in many areas in a relatively short amount of time. However, just like our own aged infrastructure and investments in Woodruff Place, there is still a lot more work to do in the greater neighborhood.
Just now we are starting to see investment from outside the community. Where I used to have my car serviced is turning into one of the most anticipated restaurants in the city. What used to be a massive eye sore (CCIC building), on the verge of falling down, is now Centerpoint Brewery and a maker space and lots of independently owned shops. There’s a protected bike lane on Michigan and on New York. The Mayfair building (next to Burger King on 10th Street) doesn’t have holes in the walls and is on its way to being a new brew pub. Near East Area Renewal recently completed their 100th home renovation in St. Clair Place. One of our IPS schools, Thomas Gregg Elementary, once on the verge of takeover candidacy, is now an innovation school. It’s still part of the IPS system but run independently by Near Eastside community leaders. The federal IndyEast Promise Zone has delivered on its designation, securing over $120m in grant awards for the area in a little over two years.
Every resident who has lived here for the past 5-10 years can see the fruit of this labor and it has created a great deal of excitement around the future. But it’s not a distant future anymore. That future vision identified in plans is right there, on the horizon – but the work isn’t finished. There is room at the table for so many volunteers and so many more projects. There is opportunity for private/public partnership, as we’re seeing with some of the multifamily residential projects going on all around us. There may be an opportunity with the former IREF site in the coming years. The work is not done on the Near Eastside and the work is not done in Woodruff Place. It’s a great time to be here and I can’t imagine myself, or my family, anywhere else.