Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist, Aim

With new housing developments, two communities are sending a message to artists and entrepreneurs – Live here.

The projects in Greenfield and Decatur aim to attract residents who will encourage the cities’ artistic and start-up atmospheres, while expanding affordable housing in their downtowns.

The goal is to help artists develop their ideas from conception to the marketplace, said Melissa Norby, Decatur’s director of community development, of the 16-unit Second Street Lofts project. The city will use part of the development’s first floor for public space, with plans to display local art and potentially offer art classes.

“We want residents to interact with our local community,” Norby said of the project that’s re-developing an old music house in the heart of Decatur’s downtown. “We want them to be visible, so we know the people who are living there and doing their art.”

Greenfield’s project, the 54-unit Broadway Flats, will offer common space for artists and young entrepreneurs to interact and launch their creative ideas. The building will feature a gallery, soundproof music room and studio production lounge, among its amenities. What’s more: Residents will live right next to the community’s trail network with access to a bike pavilion and bike repair kiosk.

“Greenfield welcomes this work/live attraction for young people so close to our revitalizing downtown” said Joan Fitzwater, the city’s planning director. “We need this on so many different levels. It’s such a good opportunity for young talent. We can benefit from the creative input, and young entrepreneurs and artists can benefit from our community.”

Both cities have made strides in boosting their artistic communities. Greenfield recently revitalized one of its alleys to feature local art, and Decatur has an annual sculpture tour which brings 27 public art pieces to the city’s downtown every year. The housing developments benefited from state tax credits through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Biggs TC Development is heading up Decatur’s project, and Keller Development, Inc., is co-developing the Greenfield project with Developmental Services Inc.

Decatur Mayor Ken Meyer hopes the expanded housing options will bring not only new residents but new businesses to downtown. And ultimately, one of the tenants could choose to open a business in Decatur and start hiring employees.

“It will give the community a place to learn from,” Meyer said.

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