Community Calendar:

Nothing from April 17, 2021 to April 24, 2021.

Harding Street TIF

First a little history........

     Since 1970 West Indianapolis (W.I.) struggled to deal with the impact of the homes lost from Interstate 70 and an infatuation by the city to create a “harding project. When news struck that the city and state would not only be removing homes for I-70, cutting the community in half, but they also would be creating a “harding freeway” it caused neighbors to mobilized. The community of W.I. quickly created what would be called the West Indianapolis Neighborhood Congres (WINC) and immidiatly organized meetings with over 400 attendees. Once created and organized WINC formally voted to improve harding street instead of expanding harding street from its original 2 lanes and they fought the proposed “harding freeway”.

     WINC was able to sucesfully lobby to delay the “Harding Projectand eventually stop it minimizing the ammount of homes and businesses lost from the I-70 Deal. West Indianapolis still bore the burden of loosing countless homes and being cut into peices. The “Valley” was completely cut in half and the northern end of “The Hill” was seperated but they were able to stop the “harding project” from damaging the community more. Little did they know that Eli Lilly and Company would lead the way in breathing life into the failed “Harding Project” almost 20 years later and would do exactly what WINC warned against…..

 In 1970 Rev Nick Block stated the Harding Project “would mean death to the community” and warned against it being widened. 20 years later in 1990 Dr Burgbacher, Director of Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, would echo those same alarm bells when Eli Lilly and Company proposed a new “harding project” against community wishes. Dr Burgbacher said facetiously that the city and Lilly should bring a bulldozer in to “tear us all down”.  Eli Lilly and Company and the City abruptly announced their plan for a new version of the “harding project” ,expanding harding from 2 lanes to 6 lanes. This new Harding Project was far worse than the original plan. Lilly demanded not only that the street be widened but that a majority of families be displaced in the “little valley” and that a section of Kentuckty Street be closed and given to them (see maps below). The proposed closure of kentucky street would cut access to Howard Street and Miller two of the primary streets leading into the Historic Black Community of W.I. 

Lilly displaces homes and businesses

   WINC again would leed the way to fight for our community and the 40 homes and 15 businesses that would be lost. They formally opposed the project and requested that the city and lilly require a social impact study as part of the plan. WINC warned in 1970 that an expansion of harding street would isolate people located east from its schools , parks, and other services. Eli Lilly and Company and the City of Indianapolis both ignored the communities requests and the dangers they warned about. In 1991 a TIF would be made for the “Harding Project” and a 35 Million Dollars bond was issued for the project.  Indianapolis DMD stated they would work to minimize adverse effects while maximizing the beneficial impacts of investment in the area“.

Before/After Highway

Before the Interstate.....


A Picture of the northern half of Historic West Indianapolis. Families from “The Valley” are easily able to access Rhodius park. Homes and Businesses litter Oliver, Morris, Howard, Harding.

Link to historic Sandborn Map of W.I.

After the interstate

Click To See Image

Countless homes are removed north of Rhodius Park. Connectivity between “The Hill” and “The Valley” is removed.  West Indianapolis is split apart. The Library, Park, Community Center, and Grocery stores are harder to access from East of Harding and countless houses are removed from the community.

Before/After Harding Expansion

Before Harding Project

Click To See Image

1979 Before Harding Street Expansion. Homes and businesses line Harding street. Historic Howard and Miller still connect to Kentucky. Businesses are active on almost every corner of Howard and all along Harding Street.

After Harding Project

Click To See Image

After Lilly’s Harding Project over 40 Homes and 20 businesses removed. “Little Valley” almost completely gone. “The Valley” further separated from W.I. Historic Howard street and Miller street that led into the heart of the Black community in W.I. removed from their Kentucky connection. Kentucky taken over by Lilly. All businesses on Howard are completely cut of from Kentucky.

15 Years later.....

     In 2007 it seemed like the tide might be changing for West Indianapolis. Our Community Development Corporation was awarded the IMAGINE Grant and created a Quality of Life Plan and a new Morris Esplanade with the help of WINC and other area partners (The perfect community project for TIF funding!). The Morris Esplanade was a vision stretching from eagle creek to white river that would reconnected our community and pave the way for small businesses to move BACK in and provide needed services to residents.


     The City of Indianapolis and Eli Lilly had other plans. It wasn’t enought for them to split our community apart and removed countless homes and businesses over the last 30 years. They needed more! They wanted the 4 million + yearly the Harding Project TIF was acruing and instead of investing in the QOL Plan and Morris Esplanade the City figured out a way to take money from Harding and funnel it into downtown. TIF’s are designed to be used in the area of the TIF and benefit the community as a whole but 2011 marked a dark day in Indianapolis’s history. In 2011, with the approval of Eli Lilly, around the exact time the Morris Esplanade designs were completed a 96 MILLION dollar Bond was approved.The Bond was able to be issued because the city secretly morphed the Harding Project with the Consolidated redevelopment area TIF (a whole nother mess of a story). The city apparently merge the two TIF districts sometime between 2001 and 2006 so money from harding could be funneled out of its boundaries of west indianapolis and into downtown for work on the canal and any other future project they wanted. This marked the start of the city using the tif as a “piggy bank”.

30 Years later.....

     30 years later when we look at what has happened to West Indianapolis due to the seperation of our community and demolition of countless homes and businesses we see that WINC was correct. Not only did we bear the burdens of industrial expansion but we also watched as the additional funds from the Harding Project TIF have been used by the city to prop up downtown instead of healing the wounds created in West Indianapolis. The previouse City County Councilor for our area Jefferson Shreve spoke on the harding TIF and stated “It is not a piggy bank from which the administration is going to pull some dollars from here and some dollars from here to fix something else here”. The extent of the abuse of the Harding Project TIF is unkown to this day and the promises from the Department of Metropolitan Development that the TIF would bring “beneficial impact of investment” was false.  Documents WINC has obtained via FOIA requests point to around 70 million in transactions through the TIF. In 1970 we warned this project would isolate people located east from its schools , parks, and other services and we were ignored. So the big question now is what happened to the 40 million dollars in EXTRA TIF money and why has the QOL plan and the Morris Esplande the community created not been funded for over 10 year?

2021 and Its Still Happening

     The newest trick the city used to invest in corporations instead of communities and funnel money to Big Pharma is happening at the new “Elanco Headquarters”. The City and State partnered to give Elanco a quarter BILLION dollar corporate welfare package and did it by once again taking from the Harding TIF while still not funding the communities Morris Esplande. This Welfare package was so large they had to funnel 8 million from the Consolidated TIF and the Harding TIF PLUS create a new 64 million dollar TIF over the Elanco campus site. They did this after WINC spoke out against using funds from Harding to fund work for a project that would have ITS OWN TIF. This shuffle of the deck allowed them to expand the TIFS BOUNDARIES so they could take money from Harding and Downtown Consolidated, then remove the boundaries, so they could create a new 60 Million Dollar TIF on the same property.