Local businesses revitalizing area once in decline


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Practically everywhere you look, you see new construction of commercial buildings, homes and retail.

A lot of the growth is in downtown Indy, but there's another area that's also going through a renaissance.

46th Street is typically seen as a pass through, from east to west and vice versa, to reach more notable destinations. But thanks to local residents, there's a "Community Comeback" where businesses are calling the area "home" so that you'll stop and pay them a visit, and maybe stay a while.

Jesse Rice is an entrepreneur.

"It was scary. But it was kind of a necessity," he says.

He stepped away from corporate banking to focus full-time on his tap room -- Black Circle Brewing Company.

"Hey, I've been saving for this a long time. I hope this ends up well. I'm going to just cut the cord and do this thing."

His culinary offering is Cuban inspired and of all the areas around the city he intentionally selected South Broad Ripple - So Bro!

"It's our neighborhood, too, and we just felt that it was the right time and the right place to do it."

Not far from his home is 46th and Keystone Avenue.

The area has declined over the years with empty and boarded up buildings.

Now, there are signs of progress.

Rice says, "These business owners, they're opportunistic. So they're coming in an buying these buildings and they're looking for someone like me who wants to fill that space."

And another entrepreneur, just two blocks away from the brewery, is opening a boutique.

"A lot of boutiques just don't have clothes for children," says Valerie Lassere Ross.

"There's something for everyone," she says, including high-end labels that are brand new.

Ross has owned a successful janitorial company for 25 years.

She decided to turn her office building into a family clothing and home goods store.

"This was part of the office that we never used. I think that's the thing that gets people overwhelmed because when they go after their dreams, they think, aw, I want to make a lot of money. Start small and see where you go from there. But I always say, make sure you go after your dream."

She sees the boutique as a chance to not only turn around the neighborhood.. but also lives.

Ross say, "The best thing for me is that I can offer somebody a job."

It's a family affair with her son DeWitt Akers as the manager.

"It's a blessing, to be able to work side by side, business with my mother. I love it," says Akers.

Her sister Debra Day co-owns the boutique.

"She helps the neighborhood. Anyone that comes through from the neighborhood and needs help, she's always there to give a hand," says Day.

As new businesses, like Next Door American Eatery at 46th and College open up, SoBro's identity will quickly become known as a place to live, work and play all thanks to two visionaries who are positively making a difference in our city.

Rice says, "I live right off the Monon. I go walk up to 54th Street and eat. I'm really excited for all the things that are coming."

Ross says, "I'm just so happy that I'm able to contribute here on 46th Street and help raise this neighborhood up."

The 46th Street Family Boutique will have a grand opening Saturday, March 31st from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1918 East 46th Street.

Click here or more information about Black Circle Brewery.

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