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Irvington tenants fight blight in shopping center

Posted: 5:59 PM, Aug 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-08-25 22:30:27Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- Some tenants who remain in Irvington Plaza are fighting for the future of the shopping center, which has faced concerns from neighbors, as well as city and state leaders.

Oak Street Health has been located in the East Washington Street strip mall for the past two years, but many tenants, including Marsh, have left.

The Chicago-based company told RTV6 they moved to Irvington Plaza to provide Medicare primary care for an underserved community.

“This is not the first time that Oak Street has had a center in a plaza or location that might be struggling or losing tenants,” said Regional Vice President Brian Clem.

Neighbors have complained about the plaza being overrun with trash, weeds, furniture, and homeless people.

PREVIOUS CALL 6: Irvington residents concerned about shopping plaza's condition, future

In fact, the health department currently has an open investigation against Irvington Plaza’s landlord for trash violations, records show.

Dr. Mark Bustamante, an internist with Oak Street Health, has noticed the deteriorating condition of the shopping center.

“We’re always worried about our neighbors and our neighborhood,” said Bustamante. “I’d love to see the plaza here booming with lots of services for people.”

East-sider Donna Jackson comes to Oak Street Health several times a week for doctors’ appointments, fitness classes, and musical performances.

“It’s convenient,” said Jackson. “Oak Street is good, but we’re losing a lot in the plaza. We need to build it back up.”

Jackson is hoping for a grocery store to replace Marsh.

“When I come here, I have to bring my snacks because I can’t run over to Marsh to get them,” said Jackson.

Workers at Oak Street Health told RTV6 while they’re busier than ever, the traffic within the plaza itself gets slower and slower.

The Irvington Development Organization would like to see the area bulldozed and redeveloped into apartments or condos, shops and green space.

Irvington Plaza’s landlord Eric Becker lives 1,100 miles away in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and has no immediate plans to sell the land to a developer.

Becker said he’s working with broker Midland Atlantic to bring in more tenants.

“I am diligently addressing the issue,” said Becker. “Don't forget the vacancies that are there are costing me money. So, if I can get them rented at any price it keeps the property from vandalism, and it brings traffic to the property and helps the other merchants."

Becker said he wants to bring in a grocery store, but said the residents of Irvington have to support the shopping center for it to thrive.

Oak Street Health wants its neighbors to know they plan to stay regardless of the plaza’s future.

“If something happens to this plaza, we're not going to move very far, not more than 10 or 12 inches if we can help it," said Dr. Bustamante.

City and state leaders are working to bring development to Irvington Plaza, including possible economic incentives.

As for the open trash investigation, the health department re-inspected Thursday and said there was enough progress to allow for another two weeks to complete the cleanup.

The health department is planning another inspection for Sept. 7.

Anyone who witnesses a code or health related violation is encouraged to contact the Mayor’s Action Center at (317) 327-4MAC (4622)