Opportunity Zone?

It’s a tax-based tool to encourage investment in your neighborhood. The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allows our governor to designate up to 156 low-income census tracts as Opportunity Zones, and we get to advise him on which ones to pick!

Opportunity Zones provide certain investors with federal capital gains tax advantages for investments made in these areas. This designation is intended to attract capital investment into areas that are economically distressed. To be eligible as an Opportunity Zone, census tracts must qualify as “low-income” by having a poverty rate of at least 20% or having median family income that does not exceed 80% of the greater of the metro area or statewide median family income.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has published a map and list of eligible census tracts, available here. A portion of that map is shown below with most relevant Midtown census tracts circled. Relevant Midtown tracts are:

midtown indy what we do

18097322000

18097322100

18097322400

18097322500

18097350100

18097350300

18097350400

18097350900

18097351000

18097351500

18097351600

18097390500

 

Governor Holcomb will nominate the 156 census tracts with the help of a group of advisors from around the State. Census tracts will be selected based on a combination of factors, including existing economic development programs and local coordination of efforts, demographic data, likelihood of attracting short- and long-term investment, growing industry sectors within the community, and recommendations and information submitted through the online application link below. Recommendations from the public must be submitted at the below application link by the end of the day Friday, March 23 (tomorrow).

Midtown Indy is encouraging Midtowners to help designate our neighborhoods as Opportunity Zones by filling out the short application (found here) by the end of the day tomorrow. In applying for opportunity zone designations for census tracts within Midtown, please feel free to use the below suggestions, as applicable, to guide your application responses.

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Description of the current and potential future land use within census tract:

Currently, this census tract is used, in conjunction with surrounding tracts, as a place for business, residency, transportation, education, arts, public spaces, and recreation, specifically:

  • Strong college campuses and student residency into surrounding neighborhoods
  • Iconic cemetery and mausoleum grounds
  • Historic Christian seminary and grounds
  • World-class art, recreation, and culture campus and museum
  • International-cultures-and-influences-focused grade schools and college preparation institutions
  • World-renowned children’s museum and new family sports experience park
  • Indiana State Fairgrounds and large event/convention showcase arenas
  • Residency: single family homes, multi-family homes, apartments, senior living spaces
  • Commercial and nonprofit business: restaurants (lunch counters, traditional fast food, and sit down), gas stations, convenience marts, barbershops, dollar stores, banks, brewery, grocery store (opening soon), insurance businesses, churches, media companies, community development corporations, neighborhood associations, rehabilitation organizations, youth program groups, schools, community centers, health centers
  • Waterside trails, bike/pedestrian paths, rail-to-trail path and commuter corridor, community parks

Potential future land use within this census tract and effecting surrounding tracts includes:

  • Creative placemaking via artistic additions to transportation developments, via enhancing natural areas and parks, via highlighting cultural centers like community institutions and parks, and via creating attractive and walkable/bikeable storefront sidewalks and streets
  • Single family, retiree, multi-generational, rental, and student housing
  • Public-private infrastructure investment centered around this and surrounding tracts
  • Enhanced (healthier and more diverse) food options to address food desert and community health concerns
  • Community history museum and gathering space
  • Grocery stores providing expanded and healthier food choices
  • Renovation of building for improved senior living opportunity and additional retail opportunities along highly trafficked but safety-enhanced Meridian corridor
  • Enhanced and diversified rental and owner residential property options

 

Describe any recent investments made in the census tract:

Recent investments in the census tract include:

  • Projects revitalizing blighted and vacant commercial nodes in accord with community development plan (real estate purchase, redevelopment, management, and leasing efforts)
  • Redevelopment of blighted or vacant residential properties through community development organization efforts like anchor housing program to keep neighbors investing in themselves and their properties
  • Community programming to impact quality of life issues like financial management, home maintenance and ownership aspirations, job opportunities, and family development
  • Midtown community development anchor coalition investments from surrounding cultural, religious, educational, neighborhood, event-focused, and agricultural institutions
  • Former bank building purchase for redevelopment with preservation to transform space into a highly-anticipated restaurant
  • Great Places 2020 Maple Crossing-focused purchase of vital intersection corner building and nearby building to further community-building aspect of that initiative; defunct business spaces turned into discount grocery market, brewery, and available commercial spaces
  • College campus building additions and land acquisition
  • Veteran-devoted burial grounds and commemoration addition
  • Unattractive public park turned into city-honored destination park to attract neighbors and visitors to communal grounds and activities
  • Museum expansion to include family-focused outdoor sports experience across a two-city-block-sized area
  • Opening of new restaurants along College Ave corridor

 

Describe any anticipated investments that could be attracted by an opportunity zone designation:

Anticipated investments in the area that could be made more attractive by an opportunity zone designation include:

  • Monon rail-to-trial bike/pedestrian bridge across 38th Street
  • Speed tables and traffic lights at busy intersections around Tarkington Park and at 38th Street cross streets
  • Designated bus rapid transit lines and bike/pedestrian lanes along 38th Street
  • Small grocery store(s) at 38th Street intersections and along corridor
  • Arts-focused stage within Tarkington Park to attract and bond surrounding neighborhoods and visitors further afield
  • Healthier restaurant choices along 38th Street corridor
  • Café within Tarkington Park
  • Renovation of vacant and decrepit homes south of and along 38th Street
  • Clarendon Road and corridor enhancement
  • Addition of new and improved trails + connections to existing multiuse trails
  • Further Concord Building (corner of 38th and Illinois) redevelopment
  • Further former Double 8 grocery store building redevelopment and lease
  • Leased commercial space along streets branching out from 38th Street corridor and along corridor itself
  • Safer business practices (sales, hours, security, marketing tactics) in stores, restaurants, and gas stations along and stemming from 38th Street corridor through competitors investing in area
  • Concert and arts event investment in local public and park spaces
  • Mixed-use (senior care and commercial business) building redevelopment along Meridian Street
  • Redevelopment of old but communally-significant commercial buildings
  • Redevelopment of homes, both inside and out, via financial assistance and investment like the Opportunity Zone designation aims to bring
  • Encouraged home ownership via legal and mortgage assistance, mortgage access opportunities, and neighborhood/home façade beautification efforts
  • Growth of entrepreneurial business opportunities via low upfront costs and simplified lease terms and management arrangements
  • Bike share program devoted to the area but working in collaboration with downtown bike share system
  • Community-focused commercial businesses to compete with existing community-disparate businesses that have led to ongoing community safety concerns
  • College campus and surrounding area growth and beautification
  • Grade school enhancements through growth, competition, beautification, and safety
  • Technology and marketing company investment with community focus
  • Hotel investment for proximity to fairgrounds, college campus, and park events
  • Event space rental investments
  • Enormous and diverse contractor and subcontractor work opportunities
  • Connectivity enhancements through street and waterway crossings for pedestrians

 

Other relevant information and additional reasons for recommending this census tract:

This and other important tracts are, in an almost literal sense, in the Governor’s backyard. Though choosing tracts so close to the Governor’s Mansion could be skewed as favoritism by the Governor, we stress that such a concern is negligible compared to the help these tracts need and the benefit an Opportunity Zone designation would bring. There is an argument to be made that proximity to the Governor’s Mansion actually elevates rather than reduces the need to invest in these tracts. It is important to incentivize development here not only for the betterment of those living and working in and around the tract, as with all tracts, but also for the betterment of our state’s image as visitors to the Governor’s Mansion and nearby sites inevitably explore beyond the Meridian Street corridor.

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