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City of Indianapolis engaging stakeholders near Indiana Avenue to discuss its future

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Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 18:33:39-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Avenue has a rich history. It was once a vibrant economic driver for the Black community.

While a historical marker positioned on the Avenue by the state of Indiana recognizes its past success, over the years development along the Avenue took away opportunities.

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"It was a neighborhood stolen to build a university,” Olgen Williams, a Haughville resident, said.

According to the Indiana Historical Society, the Black community was pushed out.

Since then, as we've reported, development along the Avenue has been a contentious topic. Many longtime residents like Williams want to see developments made but with reconciliation in mind.

"The history of the Avenue is very important to us, but it's got to be done right,” Williams said. “It's got to go all the way back and it's got to highlight the relationship with African Americans in the city of Indianapolis."

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That is exactly what the city of Indianapolis is trying to do.

This week they began conversations with stakeholders on Indiana Avenue to hear from them about how they would like to see the area developed before any big decisions are made.

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"Research shows that the first step of reconciliation is acknowledging what happened,” Lourenzo Giple, Deputy Director of Planning, Preservation and Design Indianapolis, said. “Then understanding and coming to terms with a clear vision — a unified vision, which is the process of what we are going through."

Aaron Laster says he was invited by the Department of Metropolitan Development to take part in these conversations. He is a real estate investor hoping to take part in the development of Indiana Avenue.

"More equitable development is important, especially in a community that has been, for a lack of better terms, railroaded over the years,” Laster said.

He says the city needs to make sure when development starts happening, African Americans need to be front and center.

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"For there to be equitable development, I think we need to have Black developers involved, and they are ones actually making the money,” Laster said.

The city hopes to pay homage and reconcile the wrongs that were made in the past.

The city says these conversations with stakeholders will take place over an eight-week period, then they will open them up to the public. The goal is to know what kind of development people in the community want to see.

The Department of Metropolitan Development says to keep an eye on their social media pages for information on when the open public feedback session will take place.