East 10th Street gets million-dollar makeover

Rehabbed homes, historic theater transform 10th

INDIANAPOLIS - East 10th Street is no longer just a transportation corridor, but a destination.

It was an area of the city that carried the unsavory nickname of the swamp, but the city's near east side has transformed itself with an infusion of public and private money and civic leaders with perseverance.

The 10th Street makeover begins at Dorman Avenue where a $3 million mural and artwork project known as the Payne Connection serves as the western gateway for the corridor project.

During the past five years, more than $12 million has been invested along 10th Street in infrastructure improvements and new housing, including the Clifford Corner, a mix of affordable apartments, private condos and 12,000 square feet of retail space.

"The hopeful goal is that we begin to see the private sector taking over more and more of some of these small- and large-scale projects," said Tammi Hughes, with the East 10th Street Civic Association.

The area has also benefited from the so-called Legacy Project, a multi-million dollar infusion of cash that helped buy up homes in the St. Clair neighborhood.

In the past two years, the neighborhood has rehabbed more than 30 homes that are now for sale at market value.

"People still want to live here, and it's great," said lifelong area resident Ruth Shaw. "We've got a lot of young professionals that are moving in. And that's really good blood coming into this community."

And after 10 years of back and forth negotiations, the neighborhood has finally taken possession of the historic Rivoli Theatre, which was once the city's premiere movie palace.

Even though the lights went out at the theater more than 12 years ago, civic leaders believe the Rivoli can once again take center stage on 10th Street. 

"I think the community as a whole would like to see that building put back into a positive use that would offer some type of arts or other programming that would be an amenity for the neighborhood," Hughes said.

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