Southsider Voice editor
Strengthening and building neighborhoods is the goal of the Garfield Park Better Block program taking place Saturday, June 28 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to see what could be. What if? ...
The family-friendly outdoor marketplace will feature live entertainment to showcase the business potential of the Shelby Street corridor. The “pop-up” block – which will run from Garfield Library south to Cruft Street and includes Garfield Park Baptist Church – will give community members and visitors a taste of what the area could be like if transformed into a bustling retail and activity center.
Two neighborhood associations and Big Car, which brings art to people and people to art to invigorate communities, are sponsoring the event. The committee working on the project is headed by Donna Lund Jacobsen.
“There are a lot of exciting things happening in our neighborhood, and we want to keep up the momentum by organizing our second Better Block,” said Jacobsen. “The neighbors of Garfield Park have a deep passion to make this project a success, and now we need the support of our surrounding neighbors and friends.”
Many residents agree that the area is primed to be Indy’s next hot spot.
The block party will feature music from Hank Hazzard and the Texas 3, food trucks from Ember Urban Eatery, Der Pretzel Wagen, Tommy’s Jerky and Kim’s Kakery, Bakery & Cafe, kettle corn and a beer garden.
There will also be retail shops, vendors, artists, representatives from local schools and children activities. The Garfield Shakespeare Company will stage scenes from its upcoming performance of “Camelot” and other acts.
The free event will provide participants the opportunity to share ideas about how to develop the space into an area that everyone can enjoy.
Visitors will also get a sneak-peek at the newly renovated and well-known Garfield Park Eatery and Coffee Shop, which isn’t expected to open until mid-July. However, the new owners and neighborhood residents, Dan Sassano and David Sanchez, hope to be able to provide a light fare during the event.
The eatery will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in a bright and airy atmosphere, as the boards have been removed from the front windows. The owners said they are excited to reopen the restaurant and hope that it will be a place for friends and neighbors to meet as it’s easily accessible to pedestrians.
The block program is part of a larger effort with Better Block projects being performed throughout the country. The goal is to allow cities to rapidly implement infrastructure and policy changes that spur community revitalization.
The project goes beyond simply being a street festival or even a beautification effort, said Jacobsen. It questions outdated concepts and current development standards that may be stifling the very development the community wants to encourage.
“Community leaders, local business owners, historians and volunteers have all helped in the planning for this project to remake the Garfield Park Village,” said Justin Moed, a local resident and state representative from District 97.