New Lift Indy project gives $4.5M to downtown neighborhood

24-Hour News 8's Brenna Donnelly, left, and Monon16 homeowner Cynthia Hooks walk the neighborhood Oct. 12, 2017. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Joe Hogsett announced a new initiative called Lift Indy on Thursday, providing $4.5 million to downtown neighborhoods for revitalization.

The first recipient of the grant is the Monon16 neighborhood, stretching from 22nd Street south to I-70/I-65, and from Dr. Andrew J. Brown Avenue east to Central Avenue. The area encompasses part of the Kennedy-King and Hillside neighborhoods.

“Transformation is coming to the very ground on which we stand now,” said the mayor while standing outside the new commercial developments at 17th and Bellefontaine streets. “Monon16 was selected in a competitive and multiround process because there is so much potential in this community.”

The $4.5 million comes from the city’s federal Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, specifically the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the Community Development Block Grants Program. City leaders say the money will be allocated over a period of three years to develop affordable housing, commercial space, public areas and economic development opportunities. Emily Mack, director of the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, says Monon16 was chosen in part because of the current revitalization efforts already in play, specifically those form King-Park and associates.

“The Monon16 area proved to have a wonderful group of organizations committed to investing in this neighborhood,” Mack said. “So we know that our funds will truly make a difference here and will be leveraged further.”

Hogsett called it a first-of-its-kind investment strategy, explaining that Lift Indy isn’t just for the Monon16 neighborhood.

“Each year, the city of Indianapolis will select a new Lift Indy area through a competitive, data-driven process,” he said, “and the ripples of progress will continue to spread throughout our community offering the opportunity for more families to benefit from our community’s success.”

A committee staffed by city, nonprofit and business leaders makes the final selection once all applications have been reviewed. To apply, contact the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development at this link.

Cynthia Hooks, the Kennedy-King Neighborhood Association president, said she considers the grant a blessing given all the hard work she and her neighbors have put into the area.

“I’ve been here my entire life,” Hooks said. “My home was built in 1890. We’ve had five generations that are living in our home.”

Hooks said it’s been their home for more than 100 years.

“My grandmother was the mother of eight and, of the eight children, I think five of them were literally born in this house,” she said.

Hooks inherited her grandmother’s home and set to work.

“I started kind of working on it by myself, investing my own money, and then King-Park came into the neighborhood and I found out there’s some programs that I might quality for.”

Hooks wasn’t satisfied just revitalizing her own home; she turned her sights to her neighborhood.

“Yeah, that was kind of by accident,” she said and laughed, explaining how a neighborhood crime watch group turned into a neighborhood association with her as the president.

“I’ve watched it change. The doors were left unlocked, and you knew all the neighbors by first name and they always knew me, and then over the years it wasn’t always so nice,” Hooks said. “And now It’s back in the upswing. I’m excited, I’m ecstatic about Indy Lift. So it’s beautiful it’s a blessing for all of us.”