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Now What? Tully Asks Readers To Chime In With Ways To Fix Phoenix

Help The Star's Matt Tully wants to know what you'd do to help fix the environment in which 3-year-old TaJanay Bailey was killed last week:

"The Phoenix is just one of the city's danger zones. But turning around what may well be the worst would be a tangible and symbolic win Indianapolis could rally around.

"How do you fix the Phoenix? More attention from police, social service groups and the rest of us would be a step forward. Asking more of tenants and owners, and not prejudging people who live there, would be another.

"Send me your ideas. Tell me what you are willing to do.

"Improving the Phoenix won't be easy. But the city could send a powerful message by trying."


The solution to the Phoenix Apartments is a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization effort powered by the same public/private partnership that redeveloped the Parkwoods Apartments into the Mills Crossing development along 38th St. That effort was led in part by a capable community development corporation (CDC), United Northeast Community Development Corporation(UNEC), headed by a very able Exec. Director -Jim Davie. That organization, in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, the state housing authority, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Community Builders, redeveloped the Parkwoods site near the Phoenix Apartments and adjacent to the Mozell Sanders apartments currently being demolished. UNEC already has a blueprint for redevelopment of that area with homeownership options and retail available to working families.

The Phoenix Apartments site is approximately 12 acres consisting of unmarketable 1 and 2 bedroom units of 600 sq. ft. Were it not for the HUD 20 year project based Sec. 8 contracts recently renewed and the 10 year housing vouchers from the local housing authority which guarantee market rate rents to the owners, this project would be as vacant as the Mozell Sanders apartments because you could not cashflow the property on the unsubsidized rents the property would command on the open market. It does not work as real estate. The subsidy that is artificially keeping it afloat and a cash cow for owners has worked to create a concentration of very poor people housed in substandard conditions.

The entire complex should be depopulated,the current tenants relocated, the buildings torn down and the whole site redeveloped with homeownership opportunities that will appreciate and contribute to the vitality of the neighborhood. Tenants who demonstrate the desire and will to return to the revitalized site should be given an opportunity to do so.

The only reason this property has not suffered the same natural death dictated by the market as the Mozell Sanders apartments is because it is subsidized by Section 8 and Housing vouchers. The property has gone from owner to owner because those subsidies make the property a cash cow. HUD and the Housing authority should cancel those contracts and thereby remove the incentive for multiple owners to enrich themselves by managing such a decrepit property.

The revitalized apartments at Mills Crossing, the presence of two charter schools in the area and the coming redevelopment of the 37 acre Mozell Sanders apartment site pursuant to the community based plan created by UNEC, set the stage for redevelopment of the 12 acre Phoenix site. Efforts like the Eastlake Project in Atlanta are evidence that this kind of transformation can be done. A private/public partnership of the neighborhood community development corporation UNEC that has proven its capability to turn around blight is available to us right now to fix this problem. Phoenix exists because we tolerate it. We have the tools and the resources to permanently remake a failed place so that not one more sweet innocent child of God like TaJanay Bailey will live and die in such a hopeless place. Empower the CDC and its public/private partners to get it done.

Even better......? Clear everyone out and torch the place!!

"Clear everyone out and torch the place!!"

Ignoring the second half of your statement, where do you propose we put the people you want to clear out?

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