There has been alot said about recent proposals for changes to building codes, permits and inspection issues in OTR in an effort to help jump start the area and the indifference of city officials (Whom I hope all of will be voted out or fired after the elections) can be disheartening.
I was speaking to someone who is involved in OTR on the phone the other day and they asked y come here? The city doesn't give a damn, the investors have blocks of this neighborhood locked down? Why do it? why come to OTR? why Not stay in Indy where things are nice and restored ?"
And I replied to him, "If people don't come, nothing will happen. OTR and the city needs preservationist who have done this before, know how to sway public opinion AGAINST city officials who are in the way and know how to put pressure on the Investor types, who are sitting around doing nothing" Besides Indy is complete. All the really great buildings and neighborhoods are restored. Its time for new challenge.. I see the OTR you can't see because you are too close to the issue right now. I've done this before.
So my OTR peptalk. Indianapolis wasn't always known as one of the cleanest cities in the country with Museums and entertainment venues everywhere. The urban core of Indy was very much like OTR. Run down , abandoned buildings, drug dealing , homeless and prostitution. Not to say those problems still aren't around but they moved out of the city core.
Many people like to take credit for the Mass avenue turnaround. Credit where credit is due it was a few local preservationist and the gay community that began the Mass avenue turnaround. the first "Major" restoration on the upper end of Mass was the Metro at 707 Mass Ave. When the gay bar opened the community soon followed and the houses in Chatham arch were bought up by gay couples and preservationists who saw the value in the area. Before long there were 3 Gay Bars in the area and other bars and shops followed. Metro still is around today and upscale bar frequented not only by the gay community but local residents as well. The building features an incredible Victorian back bar and period interior finishes. They took the first financial risk and they deserve credit for that.
The building had a total top to bottom restoration and is still a focal point today.
Below: This is what the 700 block of Mass looked like in 1990, vacant abandoned.
Flash forward to today same block now filled with trendy shops.
Once Vacant historic buildings that many said should be bulldozed that no one would ever want:
Now High end shops and living spaces. Highly desirable and contributing to the taxbase.
An old closed Pawn shop:
Now one of the most Exclusive restaurants in town "Scholars Inn"
Back then non contributing structure and vacant lots:
Today Million Dollar condos and shops:
Were it not for preservationist and people with 'vision' who bought run down houses in Chatham Arch and Lockerbie, Mass Ave might not be here today. They got the ball rolling. Trust me there are a lot more people fighting for OTR than EVER fought for Mass Avenue in Indianapolis. We will see a revitalized OTR, its going to seem impossible but in a few years we will all look back and say, remember when?