Great Places 2020: 38th and Illinois

The Local Initiative Support Corporation is undergoing a campaign to target neighborhood nodes for redevelopment purposes. The initial launch is known as Great Places 2020, and includes 3 corners: 38th at Illinois, Michigan at King, and Washington at Oxford. I contacted Laura Granieri from Midtown to learn more about 38th and Illinois to see what we can expect within the next 6 years. Listed below are the main highlights that are known at this time:

Tarkington Park

Urban Indy has known about the potential for investment in Tarkington Park for several years now, but at Ms. Granieri mentioned, funding from the city is now approved to implement the improvement, and construction is set to begin next spring.

Image Credit: Midtown

Facade Improvement

Mapleton-Fall Creek Development has been working on facade improvement for the existing buildings along the 3800 block of North Illinois Street. Expect to see some improvement on this front within the next couple of years.

Photo Credit: Great Places 2020


New Development

Perhaps the biggest news is that the North United Methodist Church is looking to develop along the east side of Illinois Street. Discussion about the potential mixed-use options can be seen via this pdf. NUMC owns all of the lots that currently reside there, except the Ace Hardware store.

Thanks to Laura Granieri for the information.  I look forward to seeing the changes that this organization has in store for this neighborhood. Urban Indy will have posts highlighting the other 2 corners in the near future.

Comments 14

  • Edit: The link to the NUMC pdf has been fixed.

  • The park looks great, but WOW, I want to commend North Church for the tremendously organized way of looking at the development. I was riveted reading the whole presentation! It will be exciting to see what they choose.

  • I think this is awesome that Tarkington part redevelopment is happening and that NUMC is engaged in their surrounding community wanting to be a leader and catalyst for change. Props to them and their community of members!

    I have two major concerns though and they’re not unique to this neighborhood but systemic of Indy’s developments in general:

    1. There is never ever any talk about who is responsible for maintenance of said improvements and who is going to pay for them over the many years that this new park design will be in place. In the spirit of StrongTowns (, this is crucial! I’m tired of Indy putting in nice new improvements around the city and then letting them rot.

    2. Can we please, please finally start burying utility lines under the sidewalks when the city completely redevelops a street!? All of those designs look amazing except for one thing: the utility poles are so ugly! The space would be safer and more reliable if those lines would be buried! Doesn’t anyone else find them really ugly? Could you imagine what most history European cities would look like if they didn’t bury their utility lines? I don’t think they’d have the same charm that they do. So let’s all take some pride in the aesthetics of the public infrastructure and bury the utility lines!

    • Burying utility lines is one of those things where the total cost would be less but there is an overall lack of political will to do so. Basically, they can keep spending $X per year on power outages, tree maintenance, etc forever and not have any complaints, but can you imagine the outrage if the utility company tried to tell their customers (and politicians) that they were going to spend $100X for 5 years to bury lines and then $0.01X for the next 100 years? No one could go for that even though they should.

      This theme has been repeated in many areas of Indy because we are too cheap. Street trees, sewers, curb aprons, sidewalks with grass parking, etc. Unfortunately in all these areas, cheap is almost always more expensive. Street trees take millions of gallons of rain runoff out of the sewers. Separate sewer and rain would reduce damage to watersheds. Curb aprons would reduce labor costs for repaving. Grass parking holds snow. High quality cities do these things. Indy needs to do them too.

      • That is indeed one of the most frustrating things about Indy and I’d say Indiana too. The culture is such that as long as we pay the least cost for something upfront, that’s always the best solution. But this is really such crazy thinking, as you mentioned, it just costs more in the long run because the investments fall apart and don’t have active maintenance. Take the roads for example. Indy really doesn’t do any maintenance. There are only two modes of operation here: spend tens of millions to shave off the old surface and repave, or spend millions to repave over the old surface. Why don’t we spend less every year to repair and maintain instead of all or nothing? Portland seems to get it:

        • One block away, the several milllion dollars of beautiful improvements done several years ago to 38th Street sit deteriorating with almost no maintenance: planter beds, irrigation, trees, sculptured walls and planters … all going to h-ll under the watchful eyes of DPW. And the same will happen after a short few years or months to the new Tarkington Park unless there is a privatized, endowed group in charge.

          • It’s easy to be cynical about this (myself included), but I really wonder what happens behind the scenes in the city’s departments that are charged with maintaining things like this? Is it that there’s no maintenance plan in place at all, or because Marion county is so large maintenance is just not feasible or enough money to do so? I would really like to know why. I suspect a bit of both. I really believe that Unigov was an abhorrent and short-sighted mistake trading money that the city could have now for concentrating it back in the 1970s when first consolidated. How on earth can one department (DPW) maintain nearly 400 square miles [1] of infrastructure!? We are too big and too unsustainable. I think Indy could have a renaissance if they would shed the ring suburbs from Marion county and then focus on added density to bolster the taxbase.


  • This is a nice project. However a bigger area of concern is 34th and Illinois. To many blighted buildings and that abandoned store complex at 34th and Illinois is nasty and needs to go.
    Plus 34th and Illinois is one of the highest crime areas of the city and the north side.

    • Agreed although one can hope that improvements and revitalization of 38th and Illinois will eventually make its way down to 34th and Illinois. I would also submit that we don’t have to wait for the city to do something about this area. Regular citizens and those who live there can make incremental improvements that can create a snowball-effect.

      • What jim said 🙂

      • The area CDC and other entities are working north from The Children’s Museum. In 2008 they started their rehab and reconstruction on Capitol and Kenwood between 30th and 33rd. TCM itself tore down the old Winona between 32nd and 33rd and built new apartments. Indiana Landmarks rehabbed the Glossbrenner Mansion at 32nd and Meridian. A well-regarded drug and alcohol rehab organization tackled an apartment building further north on Capitol. It takes a long time and a lot of money, as well as a sustained focus…all elements that seem to be present.

  • I would love to see indy have a full time crew that takes care of weeds growing up on existing sidewalks and picks up litter. I see areas that could look a lot better than what they do if they were just maintained.

  • When will this began.

    • Tarkington Park is done.

      Not sure about the facade improvements. There is a brewery there now.

      The NUMC site is making slow progress, but I’m unsure of the current status.

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