Connecting with Community: Great Places 2020

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MARION COUNTY (WTHR) - What makes a great neighborhood? That's a question that Great Places 2020 is answering, and putting to work in three areas in Marion County.

One of those areas is the Englewood Village neighborhood where Pia Urban café and Market has been open for business for three months. Caffeine energizes the customers, but the buzz is about community growth.

Kim Clanton has lived in Englewood Village for 26 years. She's a customer and employee of the coffee shop that's changing the landscape of the neighborhood.

"It's nice to have something in your neighborhood that you can just walk to it," Clanton said. "People want to be here. People live here by choice. They can live wherever they want, but they choose to live here and they choose to live here because of the community that's up and coming."

Englewood Village is just one of three Great Places 2020 communities in Indianapolis. It's at Rural & East Washington Street. Another is Maple Crossing at 38th & Illinois, along with River West at Michigan & King Street.

Bill Taft, executive director of Indianapolis' Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), calls Great Places 2020 "an effort to create strong neighborhood centers in urban neighborhoods that will basically attract reinvestment around them and reposition these neighborhoods to be some of the strongest neighborhoods in the city."

Great Places focuses on four outcomes:

  • Livability: green space and health in neighborhoods
  • Opportunity: jobs and entrepreneurship
  • Vitality: growing the population
  • Education: life-long learning

Pia Café's owner, Maria Bertram, is confident the program will help bring back the neighborhood, and her colorful café is just part of the growth.

"It's the people in this neighborhood," said Bertram. "The people and the vision and the hard work people from this neighborhood have been putting into this Great Places 2020 work. I wanted to take a risk. I wanted to join in their vision and be a catalyst, and be first and be part of that great vision."

Change takes time, but the ability to create change is something we can all have a hand in, and that's what Taft says Great Places 2020 encourages: people coming together to continue to grow the neighborhoods.

"We want that to be true for the whole city. They view this as a place where they can come be successful and also as we get closer to 2020, celebrate the history of our city by bringing back the places where our history was built," said Taft.

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