$2M inTaxes Over 5 Years Will Help Redevelop Lafayette Square Area

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$2M inTaxes Over 5 Years Will Help Redevelop Lafayette Square Area

Project organizers say the area is "no longer the stomping grounds for criminals", but is instead "fertile ground for development."

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A shooting in the back parking lot of the mall at Lafayette Square and another out in the front parking lot has helped paint the picture of the area for years. 

"So this side of town for the past 11 years has been -- the media has done a really good job of making us look like the place you don't want to be -- but the reality is, including this past year, overall crime in this area is down 12 percent. I think part of that reason is because we're a community," said Mary Clark, executive director of the International Marketplace Coalition.

The coalition is working to turn around the west side of Indianapolis. Clark says the area is no longer the stomping grounds for criminals but is instead fertile ground for development. 

"We're trying to create an international destination where the world comes to eat," Clark said.

The city of Indianapolis is prepared to hand over more than $2 million to Clark for redevelopment of the area, with $425,000 for small business loans, $1,000,000 for Commercial Drive reconstruction and $39,000 for a bus shelter. The rest of the funds will go toward adminstrative, marketing and rebranding costs.

Jean Leeper is the co-founder of Indiana Lighting at the cormer of 38th Street and Lafayette Road. Since the store opened in 1972, she has had a front-row view of the west side of Indianapolis. 

"Oh I think if you judge by what the community looks like, you can go into communities that haven't done any upgrades. It is depressing, so where there have been little grants here and there for people to paint the front of their building, to, you know, change a roof, to do something to keep it looking nice, that is more convenient to make people feel comfortable," said Leeper. 

Sales and income taxes collected in the area are funding the redevelopment for the next five years.

(Story by Richard Essex.)

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