INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Now that the City County Council has approved Mayor Joe Hogsett’s plans to build a $580 million community justice center at the former Citizens Energy Coke plant site on East Prospect Street, neighbors in the surrounding Twin Aire community are ready for the game-changing development.
“Now it's gonna change,” said Brenda McAtee, chairwoman of the Twin Aire Coalition, representing five neighborhoods near the community justice center site.
“We gonna try to develop a little bit in this neighborhood, build homes in this neighborhood, uplift some of the stuff that needs to be done to make it beautification to look to be able to adjacent off the CJ campus,” she said.
That campus will house a new jail and sheriff's office, courthouse and assessment and intervention center.
With it, thousands of employees will work in an east side area where a grocery anchors a struggling strip mall across a parking lot from a vacant lot where a drive-in theater formerly stood.
“I’m hoping that they put enough retail around here people can walk to it and can enjoy the scenery they want to see,” said McAtee. “We don’t have a drycleaners here, there’s not a variety store per se in this neighborhood…and the retail would make it good for all of us and maybe even a sit down restaurant where you can walk to it and eat.”
In 2015, the Twin Aire community’s population slumped to 6,154 with a median income of $26,348, roughly two-thirds that of Marion County as a whole.
49% of the residents don’t have a high school diploma compared to 16% of all of Marion County.
Jose Hernandez of Jose & Sons Ice Sculpture hopes spin off development from the jail complex to the east will encourage more business investment in his neighborhood.
“I think it will be really good for the neighborhood especially if they can start noticing for the sidewalks we need like right there on Harlan and Fletcher because a lot of kids walk to the school and there are no sidewalks,” he said.
Hernandez said he even welcomes competition from other ice sculptors, just so the industrial area surrounding his property fills up with business.
“You know what is funny?” he asked. “I always tell the people I’m on Fountain Square so but now I will say I’m from Twin Aire.”
Twin Aire is one of five communities targeted for development by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and its Great Places 2020 study which anticipates $200 million in private sector investments and federal tax money to boost activity.
Ground has already been broke on the community justice campus site with construction slated for completion in 2022.