Covering 8 square miles with a population of nearly 40,000, the South Indianapolis (SoIndy) Qol neighborhoods include Bean Creek, Garfield Park, University Heights, Carson Heights, Meridian Raymond, South Village, Northwest Perry and Rosedale Hills. The eight neighborhoods, with distinct history and identities, boast a range of housing options, commercial corridors serving local and regional needs, educational institutions from pre-k to graduate and recreational destinations. Equitable growth in all neighborhoods will occur with improved mass transit and connectivity, housing and workforce development and revitalization of commercial nodes and corridors creating opportunities for all who live, work and visit in SoIndy.
A quality-of-life planning process engages stakeholders in defining a shared vision for their neighborhood’s future that includes all aspects of life, such as housing, safety, culture, parks, health care, child care, education and economic development. This results in a written document that captures a collaborative vision and outlines clear action steps, timelines, and individuals or institutions responsible for making it a reality. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Indianapolis originated Quality of Life planning in Indianapolis neighborhoods through the Greater Indianapolis Neighborhood Initiative in 2008. Incorporating a resident-led framework of community planning, LISC stabilized eight areas of Indianapolis with the support of hundreds of anchor institutions, businesses and thousands of residents resulting in $458 million leveraged investment impacting housing, community and economic growth. In Spring 2015, LISC, University of Indianapolis (UIndy) and Fifth Third Bank announced the ninth QoL planning area in SoIndy. Feedback from over 200 SoIndy residents and community partner interviews, as well as input from 225 February 2016 Visioning Summit attendees, provided resident leaders from all eight neighborhoods the direction to focus planning efforts in seven QOL areas: Community Building, Connectivity, Education & Workforce Development, Health & Wellness, Housing and Shelby Street and Madison Avenue Corridors.
Since November of 2017, Big Car Collaborative has served as the convener and fiscal agent of the SoIndy QOL Plan. Big Car helps bring together working groups to address the needs of the south side where it's based, an area that has been overlooked for decades, but features community assets like Garfield Park, Big Car’s Cruft Street cultural campus, the University of Indianapolis, Pleasant Run Greenway, and easy bike, walking, and transit access to downtown. Their goal is to be a collaborative co-leader in the kind of thoughtful, inclusive, and equitable community and economic development that fills vacant houses and commercial buildings (nearly 20 percent are vacant) while encouraging longtime residents to stay and enjoy a safer, better connected, and culturally vibrant community. With the Red Line bus rapid transit coming to Shelby Street in our neighborhood in 2019 and many other exciting opportunities in the works, now is a crucial time for smart community development with leadership from within the south side.
Since January of 2017, residents have been working to implement the 14 vision statements and 173 actions steps within the SoIndy QOL Plan. Guided by LISC’s Great Places 2020 LOVE framework, the Action Teams will focus priorities in Livability, Opportunity, Vitality and Education to further align with city-wide development already in place. In December of 2017, the SoIndy QOL Plan became the first certified plan in the city by the Department of Metropolitan Development. We continue to work with our partners to maintain, improve and grow our community. On March 13, 2019, SoIndy co-hosted the Southside Business Summit, and interviews aired on WQRT 99.1 FM and can be heard HERE.