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Carving Niches

30th Street and Lafayette Rd is not the most glamorous intersection in town. In fact, on first glance, it looks like a preview of suburban sprawl. It is an area known as Flackville, and contains an old abandoned schoolhouse alongside nondescript strip malls, and pavement as far as the eye can see. The old neighborhood has surely seen better days.

Despite these and other problems, many locals know that it is a good place to find ethnic food. It’s amazing to me that the disparate cuisines of Guatemala, Egypt, and Vietnam have all found a place within a few feet of each other on the northeast corner of 30th and Lafayette. Together, they carve a niche, which stabilizes the corner, which in turn may help to stabilize the greater neighborhood. This was not a top-down, city-driven project. It appears that it occurred by luck, as well as affordable rent. Can a restaurant or 3 save a neighborhood? Probably not. However, at the very least, they can renew interest in the area as they draw in people from other parts of the city. And in the most optimistic scenario, a renewed bit of civic pride could even help raise funds to repair that beautiful abandoned school.

11 Responses to “ “Carving Niches”

  1. & DAGGER says:

    It is great, most of Lafayette road has become an international village.

    Don’t forget about the Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, etc. restaurants & grocery stores around Lafayette square.

    My favorites are King Wok and Saigon.

  2. & DAGGER says:

    It is great, most of Lafayette road has become an international village.

    Don’t forget about the Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, etc. restaurants & grocery stores around Lafayette square.

    My favorites are King Wok and Saigon.

  3. Kevin says:

    Ya, I go to the Indian/Pakistani restaurants to the north of 38th Street quite often. Killer good stuff! Love Tadkaa, Udapi, and the Village Kitchen.

    I have not been to King Wok. I’ll have to check it out on your recommendation.

  4. Kevin says:

    i never get over there, but you talking about it has piqued my interest. I love international restaurants.

  5. The Urbanophile says:

    Kevin, you need to ditch that Bears cap pronto.

    The revitalization of neighborhoods by immigrant groups is something that is most welcome. So often a “thriving” community is seen to have one meaning: namely a highly shiny, new, polished yuppie neighborhood. But many very thriving business districts have a much different, more gritty feel. That doesn’t necessarily make them worse.

    Nice post.

  6. Kevin says:

    Thanks U-phile.
    That Kevin is a friend of mine, not me. I’m a Colts fan.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t been to 30th and LAfayette but along 38th next to best buy, the Peruvian Restaraunt called Macchu Picchu is delicious. My friend just got back from paraguay from 3 years of Peace Corps and we went there and I enjoyed it. If the Mayor wants to create a “chinatown” he needs to just look at this area, try to revitalize it pump some incentives into it and make it a destination for international flavor and cuisine since he wants indy to compete on the International level!

  8. thundermutt says:

    This is an example of how cities evolve. You can’t create it with a city program.

    Experience in Indianapolis (Mass Ave and Fountain Square) as well as many other cities shows it can be enhanced if there is a dedicated “district” or neighborhood organization with some seed money from an intermediary like LISC. (FMI go to http://www.lisc.org and look around)

  9. Kevin says:

    I have a link to LISC. I don’t know too much about them, but they rock. A guy I know who works for DMD sent me their link and sang their praises.

  10. WYA! says:

    The great restaurants around this area make it a destination for us. We don’t live anywhere near there but we make the trip for the great food. The upgrade of Lafayette Square Mall should continue the international theme and get some great fair trade arts and crafts from all different countries.

  11. Kevin says:

    I’m not familiar with an upgrade of Lafayette square…tell me more!

    Good blog, btw…I’ll add it to my list.

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