Study aims to improve quality of life around campus

Fifth_Third_100K_presser_0132Government, business, and community leaders gathered at UIndy in January for the launch of an important quality-of-life study and planning process for the neighborhoods surrounding the campus, historic Garfield Park, and Madison Avenue corridor. Fifth Third Bank of Greater Indiana has provided a $100,000 grant to fund the work, which is intended to spur economic development and help build a more sustainable community in a focus area bounded by Raymond Street, I-65, I-465, and Meridian Street. Issues of concern include empty homes and commercial properties and higher-than-average unemployment and poverty rates.

The 18-month planning process will be guided by the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, in partnership with UIndy and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership. They will engage local residents, business owners, neighborhood organizations and other stakeholders in establishing priorities for the area and acting on those priorities. LISC and UIndy have agreed to raise an additional $70,000 to support the planning process.

“We know that neighborhoods can be revitalized when they have sufficient capital, technical expertise, and political will to support their unique agendas,” said Bill Taft, executive director of LISC. “Quality-of-life plans have proven to be a great vehicle for attracting these resources.”

UIndy President Robert Manuel said the project complements the University’s ongoing efforts to invest in the neighborhood and improve conditions for the campus community and its neighbors, as reflected in the Vision 2030 strategic plan and UIndy’s current $50-million development initiative.

“Enhancing the quality of life in this part of the city is a core component of UIndy’s strategy for the future, and we’re committing significant resources to that end,” Manuel said. “It’s great to have this particular mix of partners joining in the effort, because the kind of change we intend to bring about can only occur through collaboration.”