Saturday, April 12, 2014

Neighborhoods with determination aways turn around: A case study: Cottage Home

These brightly painted cottages are a signature of cottage home
The one key thing I observe about my Knox Hill community is the desire to turn it around. Even in the face if indifference and adversity, neighborhood turnaround occurs because of the will of a group of residents to take their own destiny under control and not accept the "status quo" that others believe it should be.  Examples of this determination are not hard to find elsewhere. One such case is  the Cottage Home neighborhood in Indianapolis which I recently walked.
Once workers doubles, today they are quality housing
Where is was: This area was largely an area of dilapidated workers cottages and shotgun houses lived in by low wage workers who worked at warehouses nearby. It was a poor neighborhood with a largely uneducated population and it was essentially in danger of being wiped out by warehouse and industrial expansion after highway construction of I70-65 downtown interchange wiped out a large swath of warehouses just west of it. In fact had the freeway gone just a few blocks further east it would have wiped the neighborhood from oblivion.
This grand mansion in cottage home is hardly a cottage
but just one example of why this neighborhood is important

The early face of the preservation movement was in Lockerbie a neighborhood just the other side of the freeway and most (including city leaders) assumed the area would be destined for warehouse expansion as far east until it reached Arsenal Tech which would be a natural buffer to Woodruff and other residential neighborhoods.  Cottage homes was essentially "written off".
Walkable livable neighborhood, close to downtown
 are keys to turnaround

But as Lockerbie , and many other downtown neighborhoods prospered and prices escalated, some saw Cottage Home for what it was; minutes to the downtown core, great historic architecture and  most importantly, still affordable. It was that early group of preservationists, artisans and a few older residents who did not want to see their neighborhood wiped away that engineered the slow turnaround of that community.

Elimination of a through street fostered new development.
Connectivity of a different kind: Sometimes less is more and the reduction of cut through traffic was addressed most skillfully by this neighborhood by eliminating through traffic on one of its streets and the replacement with roadway with a footbridge and the creation of a cul de sac street area which has fostered new development. A novel solution to the elimination of through traffic which also helped reduce crime and drug dealing
High end housing replaces vacant underused lots.

These new construction townhomes and now single family homes are repurposing once vacant lots and providing quality housing in that area where before there was little interest in redevelopment.

These unique prefab modular designed New Urbanist
homes are writing a new chapter on former warehouse land
The restoration of the historic housing stock has provided new opportunities for architectural diversity on a stretch along 10 th street brings high end New Urbanist development on another former industrial site.

Today no one would suggest that Cottage home be bulldozed for warehouses. In fact, it is the warehouses that are being demolished to provide new housing opportunities. Cottage Home is rapidly becoming a great emerging community and former vacant lots and warehouse land is seeing high end housing being constructed. It is an example of how a small group  with a love of saving the ordinary cottage fostered the rebirth of an entire neighborhood and are writing new chapters in its history.

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