Community members to provide input for site of condemned apartments

Crews demolishing Oaktree Apartments

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– It’s been more than five years since the decrepit Oaktree Apartments on Indianapolis’ east side were condemned by the Marion County Health Department and just two weeks since demolition crews have been tearing down the 336 apartments and 29 buildings.

Thursday night, neighbors will meet to make sure they’re heard by city officials on what future of the 19-acre site near East 42nd Street and North Post Road should hold.

“They don’t know about the homeless in those apartments,” said community organizer Derris Ross. “Lot of people are squatting so they don’t have a plan for them to accommodate a housing or apartment complex, so that’s a problem.

“I know the lack of food access. The lack of youth outlets and opportunities out here, we don’t have anything for felons, enough programs or resources to help felons, this could be a hub to revitalize this whole community and turn it back around.”

A potential hub for revitalization of the area is exactly what Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett is looking for.

“Does there need to be 300 units of housing like Oaktree furnished? Probably not,” he said. “But is there a mix of housing and commerce and job creation opportunities and the type of commercial development that meets neighborhood needs?

“It is a neighborhood that has long said, ‘We need groceries, we need banks, we need other retail that we don’t have.’ Is this an opportunity to bring some of this to the area? That is a possibility.”

Bennett noted the site will sit along IndyGo’s anticipated Purple Line that will connect Lawrence with downtown Indianapolis.

“My sense is the site lends itself more toward transit oriented-mixed use development that’s neighborhood scale and not sort of suburban big box type development.”

Bennett said once demolition is complete in early 2020, and the city takes possession of the property, then conversations will begin with the community on the future of the site.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Capitol City Church of Christ at 8925 East 42nd Street.

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