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Near North Development Corporation exists to generate economic and social vitality in the community through public-private partnerships that deliver positive residential and commercial development.
Created in 1977, Near North Development Corporation (NNDC) is a partnership among businesses along the Meridian Corridor, Methodist Hospital of Indiana (now Clarian Health Partners), The Children's Museum of Indianapolis and the Meridian Highland and Highland Vicinity neighborhoods just north of the hospital. Near North was established with the goal of stimulating economic development and stability in the area, removing blight and deterioration, and enhancing the quality of life for area residents and employees. Near North's programs have ranged from enforcement of commercial zoning ordinances and development of an industrial park to housing construction and beautification activities.
Near North has coordinated many volunteer efforts of area residents and business owners over the years having a major impact on the revitalization of the entire area. The Corridor Committee, for instance, directed the writing of the North Meridian Corridor Development Plan and resulting extension of the Regional Center Zoning Ordinance to the North Meridian Corridor (1982). The tangible results of this plan are seen in the strong economic development that has occurred. The Section 6 Plan covering the northern Meridian Corridor was also completed in the 1980s. The Near North/Fall Creek Plan, updating plans for the Methodist Hospital vicinity, the Near North Industrial Park, the Corridors' commercial areas, and the two neighborhoods in which Near North conducts its housing programs was completed in 1994. As a result, the City and NNDC's other partners in the community committed over $11,000,000 for implementation. Although a large percentage of these funds have been dedicated to improving the infrastructure and housing in the neighborhoods, vacant/boarded commercial structures were also targeted and removed, presenting new economic development opportunities for the future.
Working with the City of Indianapolis and Methodist Hospital , Near North played a major role in obtaining the funding and implementation of major infrastructure improvements to the Near North Industrial Park. This included a $2 million storm sewer to pave the way for industrial park development, a $1.1 million boulevard to allow the hospital replacement project to occur, a new fire station, and new curbs and sidewalks in the residential area. During 1983 and 1984 Near North helped secure funding to dredge Fall Creek, restore the Meridian Street Bridge and produce a Fall Creek Development Plan.
Near North responded to neighborhood requests to operate a federally funded job-training program in 1979. This program was housed in a Methodist Hospital-owned building and focused on training area youth in clerical, maintenance and construction skills. The program operated from 1979 through 1982. At that time, a re-evaluation of the program indicated that it should be consolidated in to a larger program then operated by the Indianapolis Alliance for Jobs. Near North also managed a summer work program for low income, unemployed youth in 1982 and 1983. The focus of the program was area beautification, including tree planting, landscaping and clearing of vacant lots.
In 1989, Near North received a $700,000 Office of Community Services grant for the establishment of the Indianapolis Science & Technology Park . During the ensuing two years, NNDC acquired the land and was instrumental in securing the anchor tenant. In partnership with a private developer, the $5 million Phase I portion of the Park opened in 1991 and serves as the northern anchor of the Canal Walk, the refurbished Indianapolis Water Co. Canal. Near North sold the Science and Tech Park , located at Senate & Walnut Avenues, in 1999.
Over Near North's 30-year history, the neighborhoods have benefited in a number of other ways as well. Near North's eligibility to receive and administer Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds has funneled substantial monies to home repairs and infill housing construction and rehabilitation. More than 400 houses have been repaired, rehabilitated or constructed. In 2001, Near North secured a $2,000,000 revolving loan fund with The Children's Museum for use in the Near North area specifically for the rehabilitation and construction of new homeowner-occupied housing. Near North will leverage these funds with another $1,000,000 in gap funding for the 29 th /30 th Street Corridor Improvement initiative described later.
In addition to its homeownership units, NNDC has also developed 204 units of affordable rental housing for low-to-moderate and very low income families. One of the most impressive accomplishments in this arena was the 1986 opening of Kenwood Place , a 74-unit apartment complex at 2200 N. Illinois providing affordable housing for area seniors. In 1993 Kenwood Place was expanded with a 24 unit addition, known as Kenwood Place II. Near North initiated, sponsored and coordinated the projects and their need was validated by immediate 100% occupancy. 1992 marked the completion of the first tax credit project Near North sponsored representing a $550,000 rehabilitation of two vacant and boarded-up, highly visible apartment buildings providing eight two-bedroom apartments for low income families. Another 11 units of scattered site rental housing were completed in 1994 under the tax credit program and provided completely rehabilitated two and three bedroom units for low-income families. In 1998, NNDC was awarded another $1.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to develop 19 units of scattered site, affordable rental housing known as Kenwood V. Construction was completed in September 1999, and all units were promptly occupied. Near North acted as developer, construction manager and general partner on these projects. In 2002, Near North acquired Caravelle Commons, a 65 unit project based Section 8 apartment complex and invested $2.1 million in the development and rehabilitation of the faltering cooperative.
During 1994, Near North partnered with five other community development corporations and the Urban Enterprise Association in preparing a strategic plan for designated census tracts within their areas and submitted that plan for approval to become a federally designated Enterprise Community. Based on that strategic plan, the area was officially awarded the designation in December of 1994 along with $2.9 million in Social Service Block Grants. The strategic priorities of the Enterprise Community proposal focused on: capital and enterprise development; housing and public safety; and human investment, employment and access to jobs. In 1996, Near North assisted the Indiana Herald, a newspaper serving primarily the African-American communities in Indianapolis with a $25,000 mortgage to help save its place in the community and fund much needed façade improvements. This small investment allowed the Herald to stay in the area and triggered other investment along the Illinois Street corridor over the next several years.
Also in 1999, Near North, with a number of partners, developed the 29 th /30 th Street Corridor Improvement plan. This plan was developed to garner a Community Impact grant to implement the plan. Although the grant was not awarded, the plan resulted in: the rebuilding of Fire5station 14 (at Kenwood & 30 th Streets), the generation of considerable interest in redeveloping these vital corridors, and provided Near North a planning document to allow implementation of the improvement program as funds are secured. In 2003, $3 million will be spent on this initiative combining housing, environmental remediation, beautification, public safety, and business expansion and retention into one package. Using Transportation Enhancement funds with leveraged dollars from the City, the State and The Children's Museum, construction began in April and will be complete by June 2004. In 2002, NNDC began remediating three abandoned gas stations at the 29 th and Capitol intersection obtaining nearly $300,000 in grant funds to clean three corners of the blighted intersection. Although this work is on-going, one parcel has successfully made it through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management review process.
In 2000, Near North was awarded a grant to hire an Economic Development Specialist to develop programs to entice new retail ventures to the area. This grant, awarded by LISC, was a cooperative effort between Near North and the Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation. It attracted considerable interest from other funders, and was expanded to incorporate an innovative urban marketing model, and other sustainable efforts through an initiative called FOCUS. As a result of this effort Near North completed an inner city retail development study in 2002 in partnership with our neighboring community development corporation, Mapleton-Fall Creek. The Fall Creek Retail Center , which NNDC first assembled in 1997, will provide employment as well as accessible shopping opportunities for neighborhood residents, is still in the development process.
Over the past 10 years, the asset base of Near North grew by 250% with a current base of over $5 million. In the last five years alone, Near North has successfully leveraged and administered $2,686,000 in CDBG and HOME funds towards housing and neighborhood revitalization. These funds coupled with standing lines of credit with Clarian ($721,500), Bank One ($500,000), and Key Bank ($300,000) and the funds from The Children's Museum ($3,000,000) have provided Near North with the ability to make a significant impact on the quality of life in the neighborhoods it serves.
- bradley snow
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