Photography, Preservation

As society changes there’s always someone there to make a buck off it

The Broad Ripple neighborhood has been a nighttime destination the whole time I’ve lived in Indianapolis, going on 23 years now. But in those days “the strip” still featured many small businesses that served the neighborhood by day. Today it’s even more a bar-and-nightclub spot, with only a couple of the old neighborhood businesses hanging on.

For most of the time I’ve lived here, Broad Ripple was characterized by low buildings and open skies. I made this photo several years ago of a pedestrian bridge over the Central Canal. If you look through the truss, you can make out a little apartment house and the trees that have characteristically lined the village’s streets.

Pedestrian Bridge

But density is the name of the modern city game. As millennials flock to walkable neighborhoods like Broad Ripple, developers are there to meet the need. This tall apartment building was recently completed. It and others create dramatic change in Broad Ripple’s look and feel.

The new Broad Ripple

Longtime Broad Ripple residents are generally and unsurprisingly not happy with these changes. And arguments are being made that while millennials are being targeted to live in these apartments, they can afford it only if they’re upper-middle-class or wealthy.

It’s always been a little more expensive to live in popular Broad Ripple, but it wasn’t necessarily out of reach for a middle-class young adult, especially one willing to take a roommate. But do middle-class young adults exist in any significant number anymore? I see working-class and well-heeled so-called “creative-class” twentysomethings and little in between.

Every time Margaret and I walk through the neighborhoods surrounding Broad Ripple Village, we are drawn in: single-family dwellings on small lots with mature trees, sidewalks connecting these neighborhoods not only to little parks where our eventual grandkids can play, but also to the Village and its burgeoning shops. Fresh Thyme is a delightful little grocery. We’d love to have one within walking distance. I wonder if other empty nesters and near-empty-nesters are charmed by Broad Ripple as well.

I can’t make sense of all the trends. But here’s what I do know: societal change brings economic opportunity, and someone is always smart enough to capitalize on it. Let the Broad Ripple Villagers cry and protest, but greater density is coming to places like Broad Ripple because money is to be made.

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13 thoughts on “As society changes there’s always someone there to make a buck off it

  1. I bought a house in the area (61st & Indianola) in 1987. I found that it was pretty expensive for its size even then. And the same transition was taking place in the village as old businesses closed to be replaced by bars. Still, there were less expensive rentals to be had.

    It has done nothing but get more expensive as time has gone on. But that growing exclusivity has done good things for areas to the south (before they called it SoBro) that were a bit dodgey when I lived there.

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    • I fear that what Margaret and I want doesn’t exist at a price I’m willing to pay. I want to be on the city grid, with something to walk to (restaurants, shops, parks), in an older home on a smaller lot. I want to be Downtown or Northside. I’d go Northwest or Northeast. I want crime to be managed — I don’t expect the almost-zero-crime experience of my old-suburban neighborhood, but I also don’t want my car broken into twice a year either (as some people I know who live in SoBro or Old Northside tell me happens to them).

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  2. Heide says:

    I’m dismayed to see that the condo buildings in Broad Ripple look exactly like the ones sprouting all over the Twin Cities. I wish they would at least blend in better with their communities! I also wish cities would pay more attention to the “macro” consequences of these developments, such as exponential increases in traffic. (Minneapolis, for example, is now gridlocked for two hours in the morning and another two the evening.) Alas, there’s a buck to be made — and it seems these days that’s the factor that most often wins out. Sigh.

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    • I have conflicting feelings about it.

      If they match the surrounding architecture, it will only be a pale imitation.

      What originality is there in big apartment buildings anyway? 100 years from now we’ll be looking to save buildings like this as significant, and people will decry those that were torn down.

      So it went with many buildings built in the 1800s – by the 1950s they were just old buildings but by the 1970s they were historic and needed to be preserved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heide says:

        Having seen these new millennial condos’ construction, I very much doubt they’ll be around in 100 years to spur any debate about their significance. ;) But you’ve made excellent points, Jim.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Kevin Thomas says:

    Looks like the trendier hipster parts of Austin, except here it involves quite a few parts of the city. Anywhere things were cool and funky and retro is being taken over. Not surprising, successful architecture is all about copying what’s going on in the ‘cool’ cities. I guess I shouldn’t complain about the changes, I’ve had my share in making them, but I do, lol.

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  4. Back in the 70’s, my brother had his shiny new Schwinn 10-speed stolen off the banks of that canal while he was fishing near there. Not a social comment really, just a memory…

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      • But that was one of the few bad ones from an Indianapolis childhood. It was a great place to spend my first 10 years or so. We had a house in Carmel, off Spring Mill Rd., that was surrounded by rolling fields with a creek in back that led to a pond. A loose horse came to our front door one day, just as I was running out to catch the school bus. I thought my parents had bought me a horse! Great memories there:-)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. wgk100 says:

    I don’t know if it’s a bad thing that new trends bring new economic opportunity, but it does seem a shame that it is always the same people that are able to capitalize on it.

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    • Doesn’t have to always be the same people. A buddy of mine, just a regular guy, capitalized on the housing bubble bursting by working with a sympathetic bank to buy distressed properties, rehab them, and rent them out. Makes a tidy income doing that.

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