INDIANAPOLIS — Neighbors on the near south side of Indianapolis are working together and making progress, attracting new businesses to their community.
It's a goal the Quality of Life Committee in the Bates-Hendricks community remains focused on as we emerge from the pandemic.
"Many of the buildings were vacant or underutilized and the new businesses are able to bring them to their fullest potential," James Bulow, the co-chair of the Bates-Hendricks Quality of Life Committee, said.
Within the last two years, the committee has helped attract at least seven new businesses to East Street, the main corridor that runs through the neighborhood.
"Some of the studies they've done showed the community wanted a family-friendly locally owned sports bar-ish restaurant and bar and I think we've checked off a handful of those," Chad Johnson said.
Johnson opened 1718 Bates Hendricks House Bar in November 2019.
"Everything is in the name the address is 1718 South East Street and we turned a house into a restaurant and bar," Johnson said.
During the pandemic, the neighbors helped his business push through.
"Carried us into 2021 and helped us survive," Johnson said.
Next door to his restaurant is his wife's office and across the street is another new business.
"We walked in and we just immediately felt like this was the right place for us," Shelby Snyder said.
Snyder is the co-owner of Smudge Salon which opened in January. She has quickly noticed support from neighbors as well.
"It's really cool to be part of a close-knit community where we all look out for each other and support each other," Snyder said.
Nearby on East and Lincoln streets is the Lincoln Center. Inside, you'll find Lincoln Lane Coffee, a community gathering space, DAT Laundry and upstairs, non-profit Dathouse's newest business initiative, The Loft, a co-working space.
"We want to support our neighborhood, we want to support neighbors we want to support neighborhood businesses," Brandon Mott said.
Mott is the executive director of Dathouse, a community-building organization in Bates-Hendricks. He's also a member of the neighborhood association's Quality of Life Committee.
"We do a lot of stuff like assessing commercial property that's available on the East Street corridor, as well as trying to gather information from neighbors about what types of businesses we're hoping to see in the neighborhood," Mott said.
Both Mott and Bulow agree there is still a lot of work to be done along East Street, but the progress is motivating and the focus is on creating a vibrant area long-term.
"It's great, I love everything being close and not having to spend so much time going from A to B, to be able to just go out the front door and walk to where I want to be," Bulow said.
"Our hope is to try to continue to connect businesses and neighbors and also to invite businesses that capture the broad range of neighbors," Mott explained." We have a very diverse community, our hope is to have businesses that reflect that."
Neighbors in Bates-Hendricks also helped raise money to install a new playground a Baumann Park. The project was a result of a conversation with parents about what the neighborhood was lacking for families.
The community helped raise over $18,000 in 13 days as part of a matching grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority's CreatINg Places grant. The park now has a safe playground and swing set for families.
Another project they were able to get done using a CreatINg Places matching grant was The Dog Park at Immanuel, which opened in October 2020.
Indy Dog Park Co. was able to raise $47,000 in less than 30 days to open downtown Indy's first and only dog park, according to the neighborhood association.
As for Johnson, as a Bates-Hendricks resident and business owner, he's excited for the future and loves being a part of a community that supports small business owners.
"It's been neat. It is very much a walk down the street and see neighbors and everybody knows everybody," Johnson said. "People moving into the neighborhood, I say stop in a couple nights a week and you'll meet the neighborhood."