Warren Buffett donates money towards Meadows redevelopment


INDIANAPOLIS - The second richest man in America is in Indianapolis helping to transform a neighborhood known for its crime. Warren Buffett, who's worth $39 billion, is focusing some of his money and attention on the area known as the Meadows.

Warren Buffett brought his checkbook to Indianapolis Wednesday.

"When you have something that works, if you can change the lives of 500 or 1,000 people and many children in one area, why even limit yourself as to thoughts of how far it can go?" he said.

The old Meadows at 38th Street and Millersville Road has new life as Avondale Meadows. The development of the area isn't cheap, with a total price tag of $26 million.

Planners say the idea is to turn a once vibrant area, which has become an example of crime-ridden urban decay, into its former glory. They refuse to call this a "project," saying that term brings a negative connotation.

The goal of the development is to bring upscale, mixed income living into the area. Developers of Avondale Meadows say there will be a new standards of the area, as well as a new style of living. They say even the landscaping will be swank.

Phase one of this development is expected to include 248 apartments. Two-bedroom apartments will be available for mixed income living, with a market price of around $800 a month. There will be a few units available for as little as $265 for those who need assistance. So far, 56 people have already signed leases.

This is not the first time a redevelopment as been attempted.

"Actually 30, 40 years ago I rode my bicycle around this area when it was a phenomenal area and we would like to see it become a phenomenal area again," said Trevor Bradley, Meadows Fountain.

Fifty years ago the the Meadows was known as Jubilee City, a thriving neighborhood that started to change in the early 1970s. By the late 1990s it was considered to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the Midwest.

One of the last attempts to revitalize the Meadows area was when Cub Foods built a store in 1995. They closed it two years later. But it has since become a successful charter school, according to the developers.

The developers also say in order to make the Meadows a success they need another grocery store. The closest one is three and half miles away.

Why are people like Buffett confident this effort will succeed this time?

"They will be sustainable as long as people know that there will always be plenty of money around for good ideas. Believe me, that is true in business," Buffett said.

In future phases, town homes for sale will be built, as well as a grocery store. There are two charter schools within walking distance of the development.

Avondale leaders say education is a key in breaking the cycle of poverty and crime.  Bradley of the Avondale Meadows Foundation says the area is meant to provide hope and opportunity, demonstrating what communities can do when they are mobilized, and when good partnerships are made.