Crying for retail anywhere but at Crown Hill 

Crown Hill Cemetery is proposing to sell about 70 acres of woodlands and wetlands at Michigan Road and West 42nd Street to Mann Properties, which in turn proposes to pave over a portion of the greenspace to accommodate a retail complex.

Meanwhile, a couple miles away, residents, Realtors and community development corporations have been trying for years to entice retail into the nearby Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood.

Steve Towns, an area resident and business owner, owns a vacant piece of real estate at 30th Street and Fall Creek Boulevard in partnership with the Mapleton-Fall Creek Community Development Corporation. Towns says, “We’ve approached every major retailer in the city” in an effort to bring commercial enterprises to an area that’s seen a recent housing boom with the advent of the Fall Creek Place development.

Ryan Zickler, a real estate agent working with Towns and the Mapleton-Fall Creek Community Development Corporation to attract commercial interest, characterizes the area as a “captive, underserved customer base.”

Historic Meridian Park isn’t the only neighborhood near Crown Hill trying to attract retail interest to locations already zoned and available for commercial use. The Crooked Creek Community Council (C4) voted unanimously to oppose the Mann petition to rezone the Crown Hill land, citing their own efforts to redevelop commercial areas along Michigan Road. In a letter to the Metropolitan Development Commission, C4’s Executive Director Kerry Michael Manders stated that a retail area at 42nd Street and Michigan Road would “undermin[e] financial and staff support by the City of Indianapolis for redeveloping existing retail and other community initiatives.” Manders noted that the city has already provided significant financial and staff support to C4 and the Crooked Creek Community Development Corporation, recently awarding a Great Indy Neighborhood Initiative (GINI) grant to help improve the Michigan Road Corridor.

In addition to nearby developers, local residents, institutions and neighborhood associations near the proposed Crown Hill development are working to prevent the project, which includes more than 300 residences in single-family homes, apartments and townhouses, along with the retail component.

“I want places where people can shop that are cost-effective, clean and close,” says Lorraine Phillips Vavul, president of the Historic Meridian Park Neighborhood Association. “I just don’t think we need to destroy one of the last remaining natural spaces in the city to get them.”  

For more on this story, see NUVO, “Opposition to Crown Hill Development Grows,” Jan. 10-17, 2007, or contact Crown Hill Neighbors at

The Metropolitan Development Commission is scheduled to decide on Mann Properties’ petition to rezone 70 acres at Crown Hill Wednesday, Feb. 21, 1 p.m. in the second floor Public Assembly Room of the City-County Building, 200 E. Washington St. 

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