Excerpts from indystar.com | Op-Ed by Erika Smith |
Looking at all of the empty storefronts, fast-food joints, dingy bars and gas stations that attract trouble all hours of the night, it’s hard to see it. It’s hard to imagine anything else for the stretch of 38th Street that runs between Fall Creek and I-65.
But the residents of Midtown have a vision.
They see a 38th Street that’s a center of commerce and community. One that is designed for pedestrians more than cars, with coffeeshops, restaurants and other small retail businesses lining Illinois Street in particular. They see Tarkington Park as a major urban park that will anchor new housing developments. They see a plaza-style bus stop when mass transit becomes a reality in Indianapolis.
In short, they see the 38th Street corridor becoming a great neighborhood.
What’s more, they have backers.
Smith says the trickiest of the three neighborhoods to transform will probably be Midtown. Not only does the focal point intersection of 38th Street and Illinois not look like a center of anything, for years, it has actually served as a divider.
“38th Street isn’t just a physical barrier,” said Michael McKillip, executive director of Midtown Indianapolis Inc. “It’s a psychological and emotional barrier, and many ways a racial barrier.”
North of 38th Street, for example, the population is mostly white and affluent. Home ownership is high. Crime is low. However, south of 38th Street, the population is mostly black and poor. Home ownership is low; abandoned homes dot the streets.