New program aims to "Lift" Indianapolis neighborhoods

The "Monon16" area of Indianapolis is getting $4.5 million over three years for revitalization.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A near north side neighborhood getting a big lift. The Monon16 area, located in the Kennedy-King neighborhood, is getting $4.5 million in HUD money over the next three years as part of Lift Indy.

Lift Indy is a new program aimed at spurring revitalization in Indianapolis' urban core neighborhoods.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said, "this money will support quality affordable housing, creative place-making, public amenities and more," helping create a place where "long-term residents are uplifted and new neighbors are welcome."

The Monon16 area was one of nine neighborhoods that applied for the program, but it won't be the last chosen. The mayor said each year the city will select a new Lift area that will "ultimately propel revitalization throughout our many neighborhoods."

Long-time resident Cynthia Hooks said, "I'm terribly excited about the Lift Indy program. Not only the financial investment, but also the emotional investment because this is where I grew up."

Hooks is living in house her family has owned for nearly 100 years. She said not very long ago, the neighborhood had a lot of problems with crime and blight.

"At the time we were raising my children, my husband and I did not want them to go to school and live in this neighborhood and so we moved to suburbs, but now we're back," she said.

And she's happy to see the turnaround, with more people redoing old homes and building new ones. Businesses are also moving in, including West Fork Whiskey and Cannon Ball Brewing Company.

Cannon Ball Brewing Company owner Mark Swartz said, "I live less than a mile away and once I saw the building, I knew it had to be saved."

He hopes the infusion of new money "will help with expansion...just to have more businesses and neighbors is going to be exciting for the area."

But some have watched all the activity with trepidation.

Claudia Merchant said, "At first I wasn't excited about it."

Merchant, 82, has called the area home for much of her life.

"I worried about taxes going up and being pushed out of the neighborhood. That was (my) main concern," she said. "Some are still leery, but I'm hopeful we're able to get over that hump."

Steven Meyer, executive director of the King Park Development Corp. said, "Lift Indy is not about displacing anyone. It's about helping long-term residents here, so there's money for needed home improvements and building affordable housing for the next generation of people who want to be part of a great neighborhood."

Hooks said that was very important.

"I see a lot of meaning in Lift," she said. "It's lifting the community, it's lifting the neighborhood to its former glory."

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