[This post originally appeared on City Gallery's blog.]
"There's a lot of revitalization going on that you don't see when you first drive down the street."
This statement perfectly describes the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood on the near south side of Indianapolis, sandwiched between Fountain Square (to the east), the Lilly corporate campus (to the north), and Garfield Park (to the south). New neighbors Jason and Haley Ney have discovered, since arriving in Indy last summer, that there's more than meets the eye in the historic up-and-coming neighborhood of Bates-Hendricks.
Haley and Jason both grew up in small-town Indiana, near Kokomo. Jason's parents lived in (and gradually remodeled) an old farmhouse in the countryside, and Haley's family lived on a large multi-acre property with horses for most of her childhood. They met during their college years, lived and worked in Lafayette for a while after graduating from Purdue, and then moved to Indianapolis in the summer of 2015 with their baby girl. Jason and Haley both work at St. Francis Hospital and at first rented an apartment nearby, on the south side of Indianapolis. They didn't waste any time beginning their search for their dream house. They had a list of specific things they were looking for; they needed more space, proximity to their jobs, and a house with character (but not a fixer-upper, because they didn't have the extra time or expertise to deal with major updates). And, surprisingly, they knew they didn't want a house with a huge yard, because of their experience growing up in the country. Having more land means more work and time are required to take care of it. Houses in Southport, Greenwood, and Fountain Square were all included in their search.
Ultimately, having a good friend who already lived in Bates-Hendricks turned out to be the key to finding the perfect home. Haley's friend Sara knew that Jason and Haley were looking for a home, and that her neighbors had remodeled their house and were putting it on the market, so she urged the Neys to come look at the newly-rehabbed house next door. It was love at first sight when they crossed the threshold of their 1910 Craftsman bungalow and saw the beautiful dark wood floors and spacious, open-concept rooms. The reality of rehabbed older houses, Haley said, is that the quality of the work varies widely; what realtors describe as 'remodeled' in a listing looks vastly different in different places. The owners of this particular house had done an excellent job and used high-quality materials for the remodel, but many of the historic details remained.
"What I love about this house is that it has character, even though it feels kind of new."
When I asked them about how urban neighborhood safety compared to living in the country, they said that living here, you definitely need to keep cars locked when they're parked on the street. Having a fenced-in backyard is also a big plus. But really, Jason commented, "crime and safety is no different here than in the suburbs."
Walkability was not necessarily a factor in choosing their house and neighborhood, Jason said, but it's a benefit their family has really enjoyed after moving in. They can walk to Bluebeard and all the other delightful restaurants in nearby Fountain Square and Fletcher Place, and Haley often walks to the Fountain Square Branch Library with their daughter Chloe. Garfield Park is also within walking or biking distance, only about a mile away.
"Our favorite thing about living in our neighborhood so far is the location. It's so close to the interstate, so getting around Indy is easy. Not only that, we are within walking distance of many things downtown and in Fountain Square, so I feel like we get the best of both worlds."
Isn't that true of Indianapolis? We enjoy the benefits of community with a small-town feel in our urban neighborhoods, as well as the perks of living in a large and vibrant city, which continues to grow in the arts, culture and interesting things to do. Truly the best of both worlds.