August 9th, 2013
Little Flower Neighborhood
by Emily Hinkel
When Bethany Warner first contemplated embarking on the adventure of homeownership, she had no idea that the very first house she visited would be the one that would eventually become her home. Though she looked at many other houses after that, she never quite forgot the quaint, two-bedroom bungalow in Little Flower. She eventually returned to look at it a second time and knew she had to make an offer before someone else did. It was a perfect match. Three and a half years later, that little bungalow is home to a women’s book club, numerous sci-fi films, and the amusing antics of two mischievous cats.
It was in college that Bethany first considered Indianapolis as a place where she might like to one day live. “It’s bigger than where I grew up, but it doesn’t feel that different from where I grew up,” she explains. “It’s not like a huge city where people don’t even make eye contact with you. I really like that I can have both a world class symphony and neighbors who smile at me.”
But choosing a specific neighborhood in which to settle down was more of a challenge. For Bethany, affordability and ease of commuting were two of the biggest draws that Little Flower offered. The homes in the area are similar in size to those in other Indianapolis neighborhoods—but at half the cost. Also, because the value of Little Flower homes has remained relatively stable over the years, she didn’t have to worry about the neighborhood taking a sudden dive. But aside from the practicality and convenience of Little Flower, there was something more: a desire to contribute to the downtown community.
Bethany explains that downtown community is critical to the vitality of a city. “I did my grad school work on urban sprawl,” she says, “so I looked at the land use choices, the environmental choices, the loss of population density in urban core. For revitalization efforts to work, people have to live downtown and invest money in downtown. It doesn’t work if people just go there as a hobby.” If that’s true, then it’s good news for Indianapolis because Little Flower appears to be everything one could want in a thriving urban community. The Little Flower Catholic Church and School are active in the parish and provide a strong community center. Homes and businesses in the area boast Little Flower signs that proudly identify them as part of the neighborhood, and neighbors are eager to foster community. Bethany recalls the welcome she received as a new resident. “The first summer that I lived here, people would stop by when I was outside and tell me how glad they were that I was here and that I was working on the house,” she says. “We all want to keep the neighborhood nice, so everybody puts effort into their homes. But it’s not about being better than the Joneses; it’s about having pride in our neighborhood.”
Bethany is quick to endorse Little Flower but also offers some great objective advice for those contemplating a move downtown:
“The urban neighborhoods are all different, and you’ve got to find the one that is right for you, not necessarily what is trendy. You could be miserable in Broad Ripple if it’s not right for you. It’s about what fits who you are and the things that are important to you.”
She also points out the usefulness of visiting locations such as a library or a grocery store when evaluating a neighborhood. “A library is a really good mirror of who is in the community,” she says. “Go to those sorts of community places before you buy a house.”
Today, the little bungalow is still the perfect match for Bethany, just as it was when she first set eyes on it. She’s still happy to be in Little Flower, enjoying the friendship of her neighbors, and is a champion of the east side. Yes, homeownership is suiting Bethany just fine.