Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

January 4, 2015

Taking Action To Gentrify Indianapolis Before It Becomes Full Blown Detroit

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:55 pm

Ghetto AnchorPity Indianapolis. It used to be the center of automobile manufacturing before Detroit (and its easier access to shipping) came along.  Indianapolis also led the way in creating a multi-lane highway belt around the city. Interstate 465 took most of the 1960s to take shape. Now most major cities have such loops either all or partially around each of them.

What is inside the Indianapolis loop has become vastly different than what is outside over time. This difference became readily apparent again over the weekend at Castleton Square Mall on the north side of the city. Once upon a time there existed four really nice malls in the heyday of malls roughly on four sides of Indianapolis. The Ghettowest side featured Lafayette Square. East side residents shopped at Washington Square. More affluent northsiders frequented Castleton Square. Southside shoppers have always had Greenwood Park Mall. Only that one is fairly distant from the concrete loop and shows signs of continuing growth. Of the three others Lafayette Square has become the aesthetic equivalent of a soiled crack den complete with inhabitants. Washington Square has nearly been thugged, robbed and gangsta’d right out of business and is not far behind in the aesthetics department. Castleton Square, although barely outside, has officially joined the race to become the next Lafayette Square.

ThugsThe primary reasons for decline are obvious but constitute subject matter no one is allowed to address because the PC Police will take almost a full nanosecond to brand whoever does a racist. That is a shame because working toward permanent solutions requires often brutal honesty. The phenomenon of white flight exists in most cities but is especially pronounced around Indianapolis. The north side keeps expanding toward Kokomo and Anderson as communities like Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield become safe but snarled havens for middle (and higher) class. The same sort of expansion is seen on the west side in and beyond Avon as well as many areas on the south side. Meantime much of the interior; i.e., within the loop, has become a stopped up toilet bowl filled with swirling, disease-causing, smelly brown turds infecting most of what lies around it. One drive down 38th Street between each side of 465 offers appropriate visuals. The pestilence caused by such decay is rapidly turning Indianapolis into what Detroit deteriorated to.  The primary difference between Detroit and Indianapolis, however, is that progressive business leaders up north (Quicken Loans, Roger Penske, etc.) have created an atmosphere that encourages the taking back of the city and redeveloping it from the inside out. Suddenly Detroit is again on the rise. Young people are moving toward the center in high numbers.

In Indianapolis there are pockets of meaningful inner city redevelopment in portions of downtown, Fountain Square, sections of Mass Avenue and others. Unfortunately the ongoing decline of other previously great neighborhoods such as Broad Ripple, Irvington, etc., makes the process sort of like whack-a-mole.  The Speedway Redevelopment Commission has made tremendous strides in keeping Speedway and parts of the west side from falling completely into ghetto oblivion but that job is massive and is just getting started. Redevelopment of organic gentrification simply must catch on.

Even Fuckin Hooters LeftI am not a politician. In that arena my large mouth would get me drummed out of a race in minutes by those prone to fake outrage and pointing/shouting from atop soap boxes. In the unlikely event I might get elected my solution would be to essentially ignore the plight of or the people in blighted areas.  Meaningful social action is a noble pursuit that would take far more time than any of us have on earth. Therefore my plan would dramatically incentivize meaningful development inward and assess penalties on continuing development outward. The more blighted the area the bigger the incentive. Meaningful development could take care of social components naturally and organically over time with far less hand wringing.  The entire area surrounding the blighted Lafayette Square is just such a place. The only thing politicians and community leaders have done is to pronounce the run down, rotted shell of its former self an ‘international cultural center for dining and entertainment.’ That is essentially a happy talk euphemism for an area squatted in by poor immigrants unable or unwilling to advance either themselves or the area in which they find themselves after the majority of previous residents fled. Using terms such as ‘international’ or ‘cultural’ is borderline insulting to anyone with a functional brain. Having personally visited most continents on earth my idea of international cultural diversity differs wildly from the sights I see at, say, 38th and Georgetown.

Magic KingdomWhy does this matter? It is mostly selfish. The historic and legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway existed long before most of the west side of Indianapolis. What now surrounds the track was born and in many cases as deteriorated over the years. The track and the area deserves much better than what it has. Without that track Indianapolis may well have equaled Bismark, North Dakota in stature. In order to permanently clean up the squalor that has infested areas mentioned in this piece we may need to get Draconian in some ways. There is a new roundabout at what was 16th and Georgetown, but that intersection no longer exists because Georgetown Road is now a dead end there. The lack of through traffic now is spooky in its silence. What really matters is what happens to it now and how soon we can expect it. I remain in favor of expanding meaningful redevelopment far beyond the immediate vicinity of the track. It is the contention of many that what they see on the way in keeps them from returning. Redevelopment matters and must be ramped up.

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5 Comments »

  1. Well, now I know it wasn’t just the open wheel politics that has caused the gradual emptying of the stands year by year over the past two decades. It’s a pity–I haven’t actually been to the 500 since 1978, and it was on my bucket list to see it in person one more time in my life, but it looks like I’ll just have to be content to continue to watch it on TV.
    Editor’s Note: I’d still try to attend (2016 is historic because it’s the 100th running)….the track/facility itself is an oasis in an urban desert. Everyone even remotely involved in shaping the surroundings, however, must get more proactive.

    Comment by DOUG — January 5, 2015 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

  2. No doubt the Speedway is an oasis in a desert, but people still have to travel THROUGH that desert to get to the track. If they’re fortunate enough to be able to stay in their cars until they go through the gates, fine, otherwise……I used to stay with friends near the track, where I’d just leave my car and walk, (I don’t know if people even do that anymore) and if the neighborhoods have deteriorated as badly as you say, there’s no way I’m going to go through THAT gauntlet. Maybe a bunch of us can chip in and rent a helicopter!

    Comment by DOUG — January 5, 2015 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  3. The Speedway neighborhood bordered by Georgetown Road, Lynhurst, 25th Street, and 10th Street is an exceptional and proud neighborhood in which to live. It comes alive and very festive at race times. The Town of Speedway proper is generally a safe place to live (much credit to the police department who go the extra mile to eliminate all criminal elements). If you go outside these boundaries you get immediate infestation of moon crickets, hood rats, ghetto clowns, and general fuxation of an otherwise decent and productive society. Being too politically correct is how we arrived at this. The Speedway schools are all exemplary schools, the city government is great, and this town takes care of its residents. The residents of this town aren’t the one who have brought these outer areas down, it’s the above mentioned individuals. We all know who they are. Stop kidding yourselves.

    Comment by Speedway Resident — January 5, 2015 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

    • I totally agree the west side used to be decent but the waves of change were rolling into that area during the 1980s. Cheap real estate coupled with an expanding Section 8 program accelerated the decline after the late 1990s. I remember a trendy steak house called Mountain Jack located roughly where the IHOP is now in the plaza on west 38th and I -465. Not sure how that Marsh manages to stay afloat but whatever works.

      Comment by jtbmetaldesigns — February 6, 2017 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  4. (Off topic commentary relocated to comment section of 12/19/13 blog)

    Comment by Ronnie Mund — January 31, 2015 @ 5:58 pm | Reply


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