LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – County and city leaders,
builders, developers and realtors in Tippecanoe County went to Monday’s
housing strategy meeting to listen.
“We want to hear what people want,” said Jay Andrew, a board member for the Builders Association of Greater Lafayette.
Greenstreet consulting took a year to find out what people want when it comes to housing.
“More and more people are feeling the pinch and having
trouble meeting the housing needs on their own income,” said Mark
O’Neall, Senior Associate at Greenstreet.
Understanding what homeowners and renters value, could
help stakeholders understand where to invest and where to cut cost. The
study found household sizes are changing.
“People living alone or just with a partner are growing a lot faster than families,” said O’Neall.
“Families used to be larger than what they are and now
they are much smaller,” said Lafayette Director of Economic Development
Dennis Carson. “You know, having less children and then people getting
married later, so, all of those things are effecting those housing
In many cases, those smaller families are looking for
less space. Andrew can see this type of housing work in downtown
“Some more of the high rise mix use stuff, so you can
kind of have a restaurant down below, have some of the amenities some
people are looking for,” said Andrew.
However, the city knows it can’t be limited to downtown. They’ll have to expand to surrounding neighborhoods to be successful.
“Have enough rooftops and people that would support a downtown grocery store,” said Carson.
Their overall goal isn’t just to house people, it’s to give them a place they want to live, a forever home.
“Just making sure that we are a fun city to live in you
can prosper here but you can also have fun on a week night, a weekend
and be happy with your daily life,” said Builders Association of Greater
Lafayette member Jennie Dekker.
Housing costs gobble up the largest share of Americans’ household income. Adding transportation costs to the mix takes an even larger bite. In Indianapolis, combined housing and transportation costs average 45% of the family budget, which limits economic mobility.
A broad-based coalition of community development organizations, local
government officials, philanthropic groups, neighborhood leaders, and
fair housing and transit advocates are collaborating on ways to
stabilize costs. They want to leverage the massive investment in the
Marion County Transit Plan to spur widespread community prosperity.
As an organization committed to creating conditions for working
people to be self-sufficient and meet basic needs without public or
private assistance, the Indiana Institute for Working Families (IIWF)
sees access to affordable housing near transit as a way to increase
economic mobility. “If we can build out our transit system and build
housing in a more strategic way, we help maintain self-sufficiency,”
said Jessica Fraser, IIWF director.
Fraser is concerned that many families are being stretched too far.
“Forty-one percent of renters in Marion County are spending more than
35% of their income on rent,” she said. “Almost 10% of households in
Marion County have no vehicle available to them.” Adding transportation
costs on top of housing costs can create more economic hardships.
“Families need to find affordable housing, transportation to work and
school, and make sure they are near access to food,” she said. “It’s
important to get both affordable housing and reliable transportation.”
INCLUSION AND AFFORDABILITY
Metropolitan areas around the country have leveraged investments in
transit by making changes to land use and zoning regulations to
encourage—and in some cases even mandate—that multi-family residential
developments include a percentage of affordable units. Called inclusionary zoning, such regulations are seen by advocacy groups like the Center for Transit-Oriented Development
as a way to “enhance community stability and sustainability and ensure
that low-income households are not isolated in concentrations of
However, this tool is not available in Indiana. In 2017, the Indiana
General Assembly passed legislation that precludes local units of
government from establishing equitable housing requirements without
prior authorization from the legislature.
Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana,
said that because the General Assembly made inclusionary zoning
difficult to achieve, “We’re missing affordable housing from being
created. We don’t get an opportunity to say ‘it is a priority for us as a
community to insure there is housing availability for people who are
working and can’t afford the cost of being near their jobs.’”
The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership® (INHP)
has taken a creative approach to circumventing Indiana’s legislative
roadblock. On February 5, INHP announced it had joined with Cinnaire,
a Michigan-based community development financial institution (CDFI), to
establish the city’s first equitable transit-oriented development
(ETOD) fund to insure that affordable housing is available near transit
“Inclusionary zoning is something we cannot be distracted by,” said
Joe Hanson, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for INHP.
“We have the ability to create environments for private and public
sectors to work together toward a common goal and find a way to help the
City leverage private-sector resources.”
The INHP/Cinnaire $15 million ETOD fund does just that. To build the
$3 million equity portion of the fund, INHP pledged $1.5 million of a
2015 Lilly Endowment grant. The City of Indianapolis committed $1
million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds, and JPMorgan
Chase’s PRO Neighborhoods program contributed $500,000. Hanson added:
“It doesn’t happen without Cinnaire.”
Rick Laber, Cinnaire executive vice president of new ventures, is in
charge of assembling $12 million in lending capital from banks as well
as for managing the fund. So far, First Merchants Bank, National Bank of
Indianapolis, Lake City Bank, and First Financial Bank have committed a
total of $5 million as lines of credit. “Community banks are motivated
to give back to their communities,” Laber said. This is part of their
corporate culture, and it also helps banks meet federal Community
Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements. “Essentially what the CRA is saying
is, if you’re taking deposits from folks that live in your community,
you need to also make investments and loan products available as well,”
he said. That makes the fund a powerful CRA tool for banks. “They might
lose a little money on it or break even, but they get CRA credit and
that helps them with the regulators,” Laber said.
Such enlightened self-interest will likely help the fund reach its
goal of acquiring properties within a 15-minute walk radius of a transit
station, either to preserve or to spur the development of 1,000
affordable housing units. INHP’s Hanson said, “We’re looking for sites
that can sustain mixed-income and mixed-use like first-floor retail that
provides resources to the community.” INHP won’t develop the sites, he
said. “We will sell to anyone that can deliver the affordable housing.”
Two properties have already been acquired along the Red Line—one near
Garfield Park and the other just south of Fall Creek on Illinois
Street. Hanson said INHP is optimistic ETOD will help reduce
transportation costs for households and improve their quality of life.
“Insuring that low- and moderate-income families have access to safe,
affordable housing and high-quality transit provides tools for true
economic mobility,” he said. “If they have access to affordable housing
and quality transit, it opens more doors to jobs, education, health
care, and food.”
INHP’s focus will be on properties in proximity to bus rapid transit
lines that are already generating interest from the development
community. The Federal Transit Administration has identified a national
trend: Once a major transit infrastructure investment is announced, it
sends a signal to the development community that prompts private sector
investment (see infographic). Such interest drives up acquisition costs
that in turn make affordable housing projects less likely. INHP’s Hanson
said the timing of the ETOD fund announcement was deliberate. “We
wanted to get ahead of the trend so we could ultimately maximize the
opportunity to help low- and middle-income families.”
TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT
During his time working with IndyGo on the Marion Transit Plan, Oregon-based transit consultant Jarrett Walker
said that one of the goals of expanded transit service is to provide
citizens of all ages, abilities, and incomes with improved access for
everyday needs. “A complete transit network provides liberty and
opportunity to so many people,” he said in an interview. “Transit’s a
Walker’s work here focused on encouraging IndyGo to create a complete
transit network. “The Red Line is a great thing. You’re getting a lot
of federal money to build it. The fact that you’re getting it in Midtown
doesn’t mean somebody else loses,” he said. “Transit succeeds precisely
because there are other people who benefit from it. That’s what gives
it the ridership. Transit achieves high ridership by being useful to
lots of people, not to any particular kind of person. High ridership
arises from diversity.”
He added that one of the potential benefits of the Marion County
Transit plan is that it can spur the development of apartment buildings
with fewer parking spaces. “That may sound technical but it makes a huge
difference because if you build less parking you can build more density
and make those units more affordable.”
Zoning regulations mandate the number of spaces required even if those spaces are unused. According to a report [PDF]
by Gary Cudney, senior vice president at the engineering firm WGI, the
2018 median construction cost for a new parking garage was $20,450 per
space. That does not include the cost of land and other project soft
Walker observed that this expense is one that tenants end up paying
for. “One of the keys to affordability and one of the things the
community should be advocating for, if it wants affordable housing, is
housing with less parking,” he said. And for such developments to work,
Walker said they must be located in proximity to a transit stop.
Sean Northup, deputy director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization,
was instrumental in hiring Walker, so it’s no surprise he agrees about
parking. “Parking is totally the enemy of affordable housing,” he said.
“Around transit, you have an opportunity to make a big impact if you’re
not assuming that every unit needs one or two parking spaces and every
resident is driving.”
Northup said that early in the Marion County Transit Plan process, a
land use analysis informed station placement. “Now the stations are set
and it becomes a conversation about what’s allowed to happen,” he said.
But to unlock the development potential, it requires making the case to
property owners that their properties are more valuable because they’re
located in proximity to a transit line.
Making that argument one property at a time is a recipe for
frustration. Another route taken by other communities is to introduce an
overlay district for multiple parcels. The effect, Northup said, is to
change “use by right” zoning in all land within proximity to transit
stops to encourage walkable, mixed-income, mixed-use developments. “The
great irony of this is that the purple, blue, and red [BRT] lines are
all located in historic transit corridors, and what’s built there now is
currently illegal,” he said. He noted that if one travels the BRT
corridors today there are taller buildings built to the corner with very
little parking; lot coverage with no side setbacks; and wide sidewalks.
“All of the kinds of things that are really in demand and easy to use
if on foot are illegal,” he said. Obtaining the necessary variances
under current zoning can add an entire year to the development process
and cost thousands of dollars.
THE “D” WORD: DENSITY
While property owners might be encouraged by beneficial economic
impact, neighborhoods can be uncomfortable with infill developments that
encourage density—the mix of uses and population that transit serves so
well. The frequent refrain is, “Do we really need more apartments?”
To which Katie Wertz replies, “Really, Indianapolis is not building
enough housing overall at every price point.” Wertz is a senior
associate at Greenstreet, Ltd., a local real estate development,
brokerage, and consulting firm that recently completed a market analysis for the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors® and the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.
“What we found is that people are now choosing to find housing, and
then look for a job. If we’re not building the right kind of housing,
they’re going to go elsewhere,” she said. That makes it harder for Indy
to attract and retain new residents. “One of the links to transit
oriented development is when we build housing in a more compact,
walkable place, it not only helps an underserved market, but also saves
money for the City and generates higher revenues so we can add
streetlights, upgrade parks, and pave roads,” she said.
Housing demand in Indianapolis is also noted in Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies annual State of the Nation’s Housing
report. It found that “a growing number of low-income renters are
competing for a shrinking number of low-rent units and rapid growth in
high-income renters over the last 10 years has outnumbered growth in
Daniel McCue, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for
Housing Studies, worked on the report, which tracked housing stock and
demand. “As we looked through the data we saw a story across the nation
of the loss of low-rent units,” he said. Another story McCue saw was the
growth in high-income renters, which happened after the housing
downturn, as well as long-term growth in the number of low-income
McCue said what the data shows for Indy in terms of demand is both
high growth in the number of low-income renters and strong growth in
high-income renters as well. “I think that is partially explaining why
it seems all of the new developments are high end,” he said. “There is
demand at the high end and it’s really spurring this rental
By Alex Brown, Multimedia Journalist, Inside Indiana Business 1/28/2019
The city of
Indianapolis and the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township have
unveiled a partnership focused on workforce development and improving
neighborhood quality of life. The city says it will allocate $300,000 to
fund adult education programs for Marion County residents in
opportunity job sectors that are in high-demand but have unfilled
positions. An additional $90,000 will go toward the district’s Area 31
Student Construction Vocational Program.
In an interview with
Inside INdiana Business, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the
partnership shows the power of the public and private sectors coming
together to not only help adults find jobs, but prepare young people for
high-wage jobs that are currently in demand.
“I don’t think that
there is anything that warms my heart, and I’m sure I speak for many,
many parents throughout the Indianapolis community, for a young person
who’s about ready to graduate from high school to truly have many, many
different options and many opportunities. That’s what we ought to be
giving each and every one of our young people.”
The city says the
adult education programs target industries including HVAC, welding,
clinical certified medical assisting and dental assisting.
Area 31 Student Construction Vocational Program provides students with
real-world work experience in high-wage, high-demand jobs in Marion
County. Monday’s announcement took place at a home built by students
enrolled in that program. Area 31 students have built two homes, with a
third set to be complete by the end of the school year and construction
on a fourth to begin in August.
The city and school district say
economic and development nonprofit Indy Gateway played a key role in
putting the agreement together. The organization pushes for the
revitalization of westside neighborhoods.
Greenstreet is looking for a summer intern. See our summer internship description for more details, and send a cover letter, resume, and some work samples to firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you are interested!
DURING THE SPRING OF 2016 , RILEY AREA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION WORKED WITH ASA GAUEN OF YARDBOX FILMS TO CREATE A SHORT PROMOTIONAL VIDEO FOR THE MASS AVE INDUSTRIAL CORRIDOR. THIS FILM CAPTURES THE REDEVELOPMENT STORY AND THE MANY PEOPLE WORKING AND COMPANIES MAKING PRODUCTS IN THIS AREA. YOU CAN VIEW THE VIDEO HERE. THIS VIDEO WAS CREATED TO BE A TOOL FOR A VARIETY OF LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS TO USE WHEN PROMOTING OR SHARING INFORMATION ABOUT THE AREA. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO OPENED THEIR DOORS AND WERE INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT INCLUDING LISC INDIANAPOLIS.
State Street will be a two-way road with an entirely new look and feel by 2018.
“This (project) first started off with annexation, and through the leadership of President Daniels, and through the guidance and understanding of our city council, we were able to do something that’s not yet been done in the history of the state of Indiana … But we felt that was just the beginning — that was the beginning of this amazing and bright future for the city of West Lafayette and Purdue. And part of that future is based upon efficient, effective and safe transportation,” said Mayor John Dennis in a Q & A session before the State Street Project presentation Wednesday. Read more…