Residents, city make plans to revitalize historic neighborhood
For the first time in its history, the City of Noblesville is undertaking the revitalization of an entire neighborhood – the Southwest Quad. The neighborhood, whose borders are south of downtown Noblesville and are defined by Cherry Street (north), Eighth Street (east), South Street (south) and White River (west), is one of the oldest in the city.
“We felt like we had turned our backs to them for quite awhile,” Noblesville Planning Director Christy Langley said. “We were there more to listen than to talk.”
The neighborhood revitalization plan developed for the Southwest Quad Neighborhood will strengthen the district by equipping residents with information to make a difference and inform strategic partners of the neighborhood priorities.
“The mayor is really committed to community engagement. It was time,” Noblesville Community Engagement Manager Cindy Benedict said. “The revitalization plan was the research project. What the neighbors care about, all of that was research.”
Langley said the revitalization came from a capstone project Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt started analyzing crime in the downtown area.
“Much of the (Southwest Quad) crime was property crime – tagging and small petty theft,” Langley said. “We needed to take a look at the neighborhood. A lot of things kept coming up that were part of the comprehensive master plan.”
Following a six-month planning process, the plan has been vested by Southwest Quad residents and businesses through a number of meetings.
“It’s been a fantastic response,” Benedict said. “The second meeting had 75 people. From day one, we had significantly more people than we thought.”
The plan is collaboration between the city and residents.
“We have a core of 22 people that are strongly engaged,” Benedict said. “For a neighborhood of that population size, that’s a really good turnout.”
Residents have divided into two teams to tackle the plan from their end – social connectivity and beautification and neighborhood investment.
Langley said the city is in the process of going “block by block to figure out what we are going to do” to create a detailed plan with cost estimates to take to the common council for funding.
Benedict said several initiatives will begin in April including home repairs, educational sessions about home improvement and mortgages, neighborhood crime watch program and a Southside Park clean-up day on April 11. Southside Park also will host Big Daddy Caddy as part of the Noblesville Concert Series on Aug. 6.
“We’re encouraging neighbors to clean-up their own properties,” she said. “We will have a dumpster day with Master Gardeners as part of the neighborhood beautification.”
Because park projects are easiest to complete and plan, officials said plans are to upgrade the community garden north of Southside Park, add new equipment and a new fence, and the parks department can provide bench kits that neighbors will build.
“It’s not rocket science,” Langley said. “There are a few other things that need more details and investment.”
The revitalization is expected to be an ongoing process completed throughout several years.
“It’s a long process but the city is saying, ‘We care about your neighborhood,’” Benedict said. “We’re all in this for the long haul.”
Southwest Quad goals
The revitalization plan has seven goals and each has action plans that will be completed by the city, residents or a mixture of each. The key areas of focus include:
Capitalize on the strong proximity to downtown Noblesville and White River by creating connections.
Physically connect to shopping and dining areas of downtown via improved sidewalks, enhanced streetscape and signage; create a multi-use path that connects the neighborhood to the White River and other city assets; and connect with and embrace the art initiatives adjacent to the neighborhood to provide cultural experiences for residents.
Facilitate investment in the neighborhood
Create opportunities for a diverse and equitable housing stock to attract young professionals, families and seniors; initiate, support and partner on homeowner repair programs; promote historic revitalization education and development; and encourage revitalization of distressed properties and private property maintenance.
Increase safe movement in the neighborhood
Study alternatives to manage traffic impediments on Eighth Street; improve street lighting on signature neighborhood streets; create new or improve sidewalk conditions; work with area businesses to create safe traffic movement; and assess parking availability for the area.
Improve the environment to create a healthier neighborhood.
Repurpose vacant land outside of the designated flood hazard area; assist in stormwater management in strategic locations; work with private landowners to eliminate overgrown and unhealthy plant materials; and find creative solutions to manage nuisances.
Encourage social connectivity
Create passive recreation opportunities; create opportunities for neighborhood residents to interact and congregate at Southside Park; and create a regular celebration for the neighborhood’s uniqueness.
Initiate neighborhood beautification projects
Study potential improvements for Southside Park (trail to river, picnic areas, increased programming and places to sit); and beautify or buffer the railroad tracks.
Participate with the city and county
Engage in the planning process for the potential addition of an east/west bridge over the White River and mass transit; and participate in planning efforts studying improvements at Southside Park.
Data was gathered from research and conducting a walking assessment last summer. Parcel data collected included: current assessed value, existing city infrastructure, flood hazard areas, home condition, visual occupancy, property use, sidewalk conditions, zoning, tree cover and historical significance. This data was analyzed to develop conclusions that would frame goals, along with neighborhood input.
The analysis findings were that:
● Fifty-eight percent of the neighborhood is single-family residential, with 18 percent of the parcels serving as open space due to the flood hazard area or vacant properties.
● The median assessed value is $60,300, which is below all other compared areas.
● Eighty-seven percent of the parcels had an “active” use, leaving 13 percent of the properties as improvement opportunities.
● Thirteen percent of properties were designated as moderate or high priority for home repair needs.
● Nearly half of the neighborhood’s sidewalks do not serve as a safe pedestrian route.
● The neighborhood has a healthy tree canopy, which often is a sign of prosperity.
● The historically significant properties add value to the neighborhood