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“And may I leave my corner of the world better than I found it.” Anonymous

Leaving a corner of the world better, (or a defined geography of many blocks, in this case) is what a Community Development Corporation (CDC) does. What exactly is a CDC? CDCs are community-based, not-for-profit organizations that endeavor to revitalize community within a specific geography that may encompass multiple contiguous ‘neighborhoods’. The CDC’s of Indianapolis work with residents, business owners and other community members to create physical, economic and social changes in the community. They are often aided by government and the private sector, including lenders, investors, property owners, developers, foundations, and others. Whether you realize it or not, there are a number of CDC’s operating in Indianapolis, with the goal of making the city a better place.

There are still some absolute gems—whether refurbished or still in a ‘diamond in the rough’ stage (for any income level too, p.s.) to be found within the borders of Indianapolis CDC’s. One very dear to my heart is King Park Area Development Corporation (KPADC), which is bounded by I-70 on the south, Fall Creek on the north, Meridian on the west and The Monon on the east. This area was at its height 100 years ago, and it can be even better in the coming years!

10 reasons you should love it too and may just want to live here:

 

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Above, marker noting the former presence of Camp Morton in Herron-Morton Place–one of the KPADC neighborhoods rich with history

1. Rich history- From hosting the Hoosier lads who answered the call to fight on behalf of the Union in the Civil War (later a Confederate Prison Camp) to the former home of the State Fairgrounds, to the site of Robert Kennedy’s famed speech on the night of Martin Luther King, Junior’s assassination, to remarkable homes and inhabitants of long ago, this area offers fascinating glimpses into our city’s rich past around every corner.

2. Way to make lemonade out of lemons! Taking the the loss of mass transit/ our old train trail and making into a biker’s haven should qualify it for the “Repurposing Hall of Fame.” Starting at 10th Street and stretching all the way up to 96th Street, it’s a great way to exercise, experience nature, pass interesting buildings and people. A wonderful way to spend time, full stop!

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Above, Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site decorated for the President’s Birthday (August 20, 1833)

3. Museums- The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and Morris-Butler House Museum demonstrate differing aspects of life as it was decades ago. Workshops, speaker series, activities and events keep these places bustling with visiting tourists and locals alike. And if you don’t recall, the IMA’s last home was here until 1970; it had been part of the John Herron Art Institute.

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Above, view of Herron High School, formerly the John Herron Art Institute–which divided into two entities: Herron School of Art & Design and Indianapolis Museum of Art

4. Speaking of Herron… Herron High School is a source of pride in Indianapolis, having recently earned ranking as the #2 high school in Indiana and #208 (out of 27,000) in the nation, according to the Washington Post. Did you know the first class of students attended classes in the basement of the Harrison Center for the Arts? “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” Or, for many of these students, “Where there’s a will, there’s an ‘A’!”

 

Below, Two views of City Gallery, the latest addition to Harrison Center for the Arts

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5. Now that I mention it, Harrison Center for the Arts—just about smack in the middle of KPADC—is this gal’s favorite stop on First Friday’s—replete with a fabulous variety of local artists’ galleries, you will encounter people of every age, size, color and proclivity wandering this seemingly magical, labyrinth of creativity. With the recent addition of City Gallery, the connection and meaning to the community will have an even greater impact. City Gallery uses arts and culture to tell the story of our urban neighborhoods and connecting people to housing opportunities in a variety of ways. I wish this had been around when I moved to Indianapolis!

Ready for Part II? Head over here.

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