Chelsea Schneider, Aim Municipal Innovations Specialist
A parking area in Greenfield now serves as a one-of-a-kind space called the Living Alley, featuring public art, metal instruments and room for a growing number of festivals and events.
The goal: Create a space the city can close to traffic that surrounds popular restaurants and appeals to people of all ages.
In doing so, the Living Alley, situated a block away from two main thoroughfares, also has served to broaden the city’s downtown corridor.
“It’s an opportunity to bring different events downtown,” Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell said. “We want people to come downtown, and we want them to stay downtown.”
Greenfield has five downtown restaurants open in the evenings, making the Living Alley a place to relax and enjoy entertainment, he said. The project also is a key step in connecting the city’s downtown to the Pennsy Trail, one of the state’s premier walking and biking trails.
The alley is envisioned to feature a rotating collection of local artwork. Other features include trellises and interactive musical instruments made by local artists. Plans also call for a musical mural that could have interactive components.
Greenfield received a grant from the place-based investment fund, a partnership between the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, to help with the project’s $125,000 cost. The Hancock County Community Foundation also provided grant dollars for the art and musical instruments. The city officially opened the alley in November with a hot chocolate toast.
The more Greenfield does projects like the Living Alley the more it’s known as a fun city with interesting pockets of art and great places along the Pennsy Trail to play, said Joan Fitzwater, the city’s planning director. Because of the city’s location along two major highways, leaders wanted to give businesses an event space that would be away from the traffic and noise and would prompt people to explore new areas of downtown.
“Our goal with our Downtown Revitalization Plan is to push redevelopment out into the surrounding blocks, so that we could start to expand our downtown,” Fitzwater said. The alley draws visitors to learn what’s happening around the corner, where before little activity existed outside of U.S. 40 and State Road 9, she said. The alley is situated off of North Street near several restaurants, including Lincoln Square, Wooden Bear Brewing Company, Griggsby’s Station and Carnegie’s.
The city plans to work the Living Alley into events going forward, including a Fitness Festival in May and the Hancock Flat 50 biking event in September.