How do we make downtown living more affordable?

Shelton Condos being developed on N Delaware
Shelton Condos being developed on N Delaware

In another of a planned type of posts here at Urban Indy, we hope to engage you, our readers, in hopes of generating some good ideas about how to tackle known, but still yet unfixed issues facing Indianapolis.

Today I would like to push the paradigm of affordable downtown living. Many people ask this question and ponder how to make it happen. As it stands, policy dictates that wealthy or poverty level families are the most apt to be living in downtown. If wealthy, there are plenty of homes/condos available for purchase. If poor, there are plenty of subsidized apartment developments available. But for the middle class family looking to purchase in an urbanized neighborhood? It’s quite difficult to do. Sure, there are places that are in the $150-$200k range, but that gets you a small space, and maintence fees that make it difficult to afford.

CEO’s for Cities has asked this question as well and are currently holding an event in Indianapolis called “The LIvability Challenge” asking just this question. So in honor of a great organization choosing our city to host their event, I ask our readers, “What can we do to make downtown Indianapolis more livable?”

Comments 6

  • Does livable have to mean affordable? I don’t think these are the same at all. An aspect of livability may be affordability, but it does not mean “affordable housing”. Striving to make downtown more livable includes development of amenities, denisity, reliable transit, connectedness, etc. I think the focus on those items will increase the market for all types of housing in downtown and in the first ring. It will also help to draw more companies and jobs to the area that their employees want to live.
    Your $150k – $200k baseline is for a very specific few areas. In almost any direction from downtown, one can find a walkable/bikeable residence to purchase for under $100k. It may take a little work and not be in the safest location now, but it is there. I look forward to the day when we have created the demand for those to be redeveloped/renovated and the range for some of the closer-in condos is more in the $1MM range. When I can’t walk or bike to the mile square for under $200k, then we have a problem, but right now, I don’t see it.

    • I agree with Ben — a big part of the equation is on access to amenities. We may also want to focus on connectivity with nearby regions — if we’re narrowing our scope to just the “island” created by White River, I-65 and I-70, then we’re missing out on a lot of very affordable housing which is (unfortunately) cut off from significant and regular transit access.

      In particular, there’s a large stock of housing along 10th Street either east and west of downtown, yet low transit access means it’s rather disconnected from the downtown experience. A higher-frequency circulator running from, say, Tibbs Av. to Emerson Av. (or another street on the east side) would effectively service this particular market.

  • Indianapolis needs to offer 5 and 10 year incentives for new, affordable yet innovative mixed use development in certain neighborhoods. This, combined with new infrastructure improvements will give the middle class reason to invest in downtown. As long as these new guidelines are innovative, the market should take care of the rest naturally. Innovative Infrastructure improvements will dictate how Downtown and Midtown Indianapolis develops in the future.

    • In terms of innovative improvments, we could start with bridge repair over Cemtral, Delaware, and Meridian. Then of course enhance the sidewalks over these bridges (removing the 2 foot curb walls on Delaware, adding sidewalks on the southern side of Fall Creek, etc). Then thinking “Big”, we should install the first MidTown roundabout at the intersection of Delaware and Fall Creek Pkwy… This alone would connect Mapleton Fall Creek to Fall Creek Place, and calm traffic at this intersection.

      On a side note, More apartments need to be built in the 600-1200 range as I can all but guarantee that Ivy Tech, IUPUI would draw 10K plus renters to Downtown/MidTown… I am the only person in my group that lives Downtown, yet 7 out of 10 want to… yet they can’t afford the present stock of homes, nor are there any vacant apartments, etc. BTW, I am 27…

      Thanks for letting me vent my ideas…

  • My personal opinion is that living downtown is already affordable. A loud majority of units for sale downtown appear quite expensive, but the big budget developments are the ones with money to make themselves known with advertising. There are also underlying costs (primarily the cost of land) that make developing downtown expensive. You can’t get beyond that if you don’t either provide government subsidy or shut down the NIMBY’s that won’t allow the density of residential development that allows the underlying costs to be divided amongst more units.

    My answers for affordable downtown living today are (a) rent, where there are tons of options at a variety of price points, or (b) go to this site, set an upper Price Range to $200k, and zoom in on downtown to see all the available properties for sale right now under $200k — you might be surprised what you can buy and where at that price point:

    • Great point about SHUTTING DOWN THE NIMBY’S, who in my opinion are the real enemies of developing downtown Indianapolis in general. For instance, Nimbys promote crime with their anti-development mentality. For example, The Old North Siders can’t stand the thought of the higher density (quite an impressive design from the Indy Housing Authority) Caravelle Commons (changed name???) along 16th Street. They can’t stand the though of reconnecting the community to Kennedy/King Park again after years of being totally shut off from any access. They would rather wait 50 years for ‘nothing to happen’ to change the dynamics of the suburban nature of the site! I know most of these residents live in their bubble of ‘idyllic residential isolation’. It’s amazing that people live downtown to live in the suburbs here.

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