Re-Booting the Inner City: National Preservation Conference Recap

Last month we hosted as a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation National Conference in Indianapolis a community-based field session. As a result of the workshop we wanted to share the results that focused on neighborhood partnerships  and preservation strategies. We hope that this might encourage further work both in the Mapleton-Fall Creek community where the session was hosted and  also in the various home communities of the conference attendees.

If you are interested in any of these ideas and are interested in collaborating, we can be reached at and on twitter @urbanpatchorg. And our hosts at the MFCDC can be reached through Duane Ingram at and on twitter @mfcdc1.

Re-Booting the Inner City: New Partnerships for Community Preservation & Development

Speakers and facilitators:

Leigh Riley Evans, Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation; Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, Urban Patch; Brent Leggs, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Anthony Bridgeman, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; India Pierce Lee, Cleveland Foundation.

Following a walking tour, classroom presentations and workshop in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood in Indianapolis, the organizers of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference’s “Re-Booting the Inner City” field session compiled the results of the neighborhood workshop. The workshop’s framework for facilitating and connecting ideas around community and preservation issues is just one tool that can be used to help improve communities while preserving buildings, heritage and the environment. The interaction between national preservation and community development experts, the conference attendees from around the region and country, and local Indianapolis community leaders, residents and youth yielded some great ideas for partnership and preservation strategies. These strategies can be further explored in the Mapleton-Fall Creek community and potentially in other communities around the country.

The summaries of each working group includes key issues and opportunities, potential actionable projects, and identifies potential partnership entities. For questions more information about the progress in this work feel free to contact us at or 317.643.0383.

Group 1:


Groceries at a smaller scale can serve the community

This presents an opportunity for a co-op structure (similar to the old Flanner House co-op) to lower costs and provide activities and jobs for youth and seniors

The grocery can partner with local community gardens to provide seasonal produce.

A small scale grocery can provide a starting point to support other small/local merchants.

This can be the start of a local merchants group and offer another voice to the success of the neighborhood (not just bringing in chains to serve the community).

Basic improvements to infrastructure needed: repair streets and sidewalks for improved appearance and walkability, repair stormwater and sewer issues.

Potential Projects (DOING):

– Create new, innovative youth programs around environment building and preservation.

– Utilize vacant lots and buildings to host youth afterschool and summer programs — could be called “Youth City.”

– Create a neighborhood project that engages youth that teaches hands-on skills for improving buildings and open spaces in the neighborhood


Getting everyone involved and managing stakeholders and participants; keeping people active on an on-going basis.

Suggested Partnership Entity:

MFCDC & Mid-North


Group 2:


Tap into the human resources and human capital within the neighborhood.

Train unemployed, youth, people with criminal records new skills. Use retirees with construction skills, and companies/contractors who are doing projects in the community to do the training.

Start “neighborhood apprentice” program to train and build a quality/reliable labor pool within the community.

Potential Projects (DOING):

– Begin an apprenticeship program for people to learn preservation trades (how to restore and maintain older homes). These skills can allow people to grow and develop businesses that serve larger area with all of the historic homes and buildings in Indianapolis — a large potential market.

– Make an ‘Angie’s List’ or Yelp for contractors for older and inner city homes, targeted to preservation work, include local people and ‘handyman’.

– Start a “Reciprocity Dollars” program in the neighborhood (similar to Make Change but broader). This can be modeled also after BerkShares (see

– Start supplier programs similar to Evergreen Co-op in Cleveland; it could serve TCM, Ivy Tech, IU Hospital, Shortridge/other schools, and a host of nonprofits and corporate businesses with offices on the meridian corridor.


– Provide education and training for small business owners for financing

– Provide partnerships and go-to source for loans for small and minority businesses (microloan, small business loan, crowdfunding, susu/etc.)


– Gaining a critical mass of opportunity and capacity for local businesses

– Convincing area anchors to use local businesses as suppliers

– Management of local currency – how does it work?

Suggested Partnership Entity:

Foundation (like Cleveland Foundation — CICF, Lilly Endowment?), etc.


Group 3:


Create Leadership Zones in the neighborhoods. This could start with an “adopt a block’ program that helps bring people together at the very local scale and identify leaders and skills within the community.

The power of preservation is in the economics – use preservation to improve property value and increase investment within the community.

Increase word of mouth and other advertising and marketing of the community to improve the image

Get large players (institutions, CDC, the City, etc.) to do work more on a grassroots level to get community buy-in and involvement (not just outsiders ‘taking over’).

Use CDBG funds to help provide rent subsidy for start-up and small businesses who locate in rehab/historic buildings.

Example: Brooklyn has created a food & “maker” culture that helped build a brand for Brooklyn in general – that attracted new investment and people in many ways.

Potential Projects:

– Create a new centrally-located and identifiable farmers market to serve the area (closest existing one is at 38th in Butler Tarkington).

– Pilot adaptive reuse of historic and existing buildings for new models of building use — i.e.

– live-work space

– artists housing

– business incubator spaces/coworking spaces

– spaces for nonprofits, education, community uses in old houses & buildings.

– Partner with Ivy Tech culinary to operate school along with the farmer’s market, join with hospitality program to rehab old building and run a bed & breakfast (or just airbnb or college student or americorps/vista housing).


Who will fund the programs long enough for things to get off the ground?

How do you market the area?

Suggested Partnership Entity:

Ivy Tech – culinary and hospitality program


Group 4:


Make the mapleton Fall Creek area a destination.

The community should highlight the people and history in the community, with a focus on African-American culture.

Rehab a historic old building into a Bed & Breakfast w/ ground floor restaurant

Facilitate “third spaces” in the community for arts, culture, events, etc.

Need for more public community gathering spaces (i.e., not in a church, school or institution)

Need child-centered community spaces for interaction and play

Potential Projects (DOING):

– Install historic and cultural markers throughout the community highlighting what is in the community historically and today.

– Create markers and paths for walking, jogging, exercising noting distances.

– Highlight the perimeters of the community and make legible ‘gateways.’

(Note existing initiatives: Destination Fall Creek, Indy Redbud Festival, Walk Urban Indy)


The destination markers and paths could improve walkability and help promote smaller-scale and community retailers (grocery, floral, specialty eatery, etc.)


What are the incentives to promote new visitors to the area, to support new businesses?

Crime and fear of crime in the area

Suggested Partnership Entity:

Chamber of Commerce, VisitIndy, etc.



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    RyanMarch 14, 2014
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      urbanpatchJuly 10, 2014
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      urbanpatchJuly 10, 2014
  • December 28, 2013

    […] had a busy year at Urban Patch! National conferences, the Sunflower Mural, rain gardens, walnut harvests, kicking off the Redbud Project and more! But […]

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