Fall Creek Place, Indianapolis, Indiana

Fall Creek Place, Indianapolis, Indiana

(Credit: DowntownIndy.org)

(Credit: DowntownIndy.org)

Principle: Create a range of housing opportunities and choices

In a nutshell: Located just north of downtown Indianapolis, Fall Creek Place is a 19th Century neighborhood that suffered from disinvestment in the 1980s and 1990s and now serves as a model of mixed-income rebirth. The community boasts a mix of housing types and price ranges, four parks, a greenway, restaurants, shops and services all within a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood that seamlessly blends old and new. Its location also affords residents easy access to downtown via bike, bus, car or foot, and two bike trails.

Fall Creek Place had to overcome large odds – market weaknesses, negative perceptions, safety concerns, land assembly, infrastructure reconstruction and financial feasibility – to become the picturesque, mixed-income community people experience today.

The turnaround began in 1998, when the City of Indianapolis leveraged a $4 million “Homeownership Zone” grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and brought a variety of stakeholders and partners together to embark on this large-scale rehabilitation, revitalization and new construction effort.

Ambitious by any measure, Fall Creek Place was made more challenging by twin commitments to affordability and design quality. The city pledged to avoid residential displacement and, true to its word, did not buy out any of the existing homeowners. Moreover, the city wanted to foster “strong design continuity,” in which all of the newly constructed homes – regardless of price – would blend in with the existing housing stock and historic street grid.

The city and its partners maintained their commitments, with laudable results.

Why we like it:

Fall Creek Place testifies to the possibility of re-establishing a thriving, safe, mixed-income community in a disinvested urban environment, while also achieving design harmony with the existing historic fabric. Moreover, Fall Creek Place illustrates how public investment in mixed-income communities can leverage private investment and economic benefits for the community.

All available home sites sold in three years, encouraging the city to expand the project’s boundaries. As intended, households earning at or below 80% of the city’s median income have purchased at least 51% of the homes. An April 2016 check of the community’s website mentions homes selling from just shy of $100,000 to nearly $400,000, indicating the community’s ongoing appeal to people across the income spectrum. As early as 2006, the city’s investment of approximately $20 million, coupled with the initial $4 million grant, had stimulated over $60 million in private investment in homes and $24 million in new private commercial and mixed-use development. In addition, it was generating more than $1.2 million annually in new tax revenues and had also brought more than $20 million in new household income to Fall Creek Place, which translates into buying power to support area businesses.

For more information:

Fall Creek Place website

Fall Creek Place Design Guidelines

Audacious Planning, Bold Designing and Compelling Results, Presentation from New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, Sanford Garner, 2014

Accolades:

Community Achievement Award, Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, 2002

Outstanding Use of Public Funds to Leverage Private Investment, Homeownership Zone Award, HUD, 2003

Outstanding Planning Award for “Implementing Smart Growth,” American Planning Association, 2003

Award for Excellence, Urban Land Institute, 2004

Award for Municipal Excellence for cities over 500,000 (silver award), National League of Cities, 2006

Best in American Living – Best Smart Growth Community, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Professional Builder Magazine, 2004