December 19th, 2012

Rebuilding Foundations for Community

by cgindy


Herron-Morton homes built by Re-Development Group

Fourteen years ago what was known as the “Swamp” on the Near Eastside began undergoing a transformation. For Pat Dubach, 1998 meant deciding to leave the corporate world for community development and taking head-on this “Swamp”. In that first year alone, thirteen home rehabs and nine new homes were completed in that area (what is more commonly known as the Holy Cross Neighborhood). It was the start of serious Near Eastside revitalization.

Dubach became interested in rehabilitation and renovation while doing construction volunteerism during his corporate career. He decided to leave his job when he discovered he could combine his volunteer experience with his passion for social justice and business. The start of his for-profit community development corporation (CDC), Re-Development Group, soon began.

He wasn’t, however, interested in just making money and building homes. His vision was for community building. It included integrating existing residents with the new ones that would inevitably move in. New neighbors would benefit from the experience of these established neighbors. According to Dubach, diversity – age, race, socio-economics, etc. – in these neighborhoods is rich and diversity “does equal fullness of life.” His desire was to lift the spirits and sense of comradery of neighborhoods with simple aesthetics, such as newly designed homes.

Now that he’s lived in downtown Indianapolis for over 10 years in the Holy Cross neighborhood, he’s concluded it is not a city where you can be detached; in order to see the success of the Indianapolis core as a neighbor you’re involved.

Holy Cross’ residents have become increasingly involved and are activists for their neighborhood. As the neighborhood association president, Dubach has resided over a group of families and individuals who have joined forces, whether that means street cleanup, events, neighborhood watches, etc. Unlikely friendships have formed in the process. This community revival is in large part a result of shared interest in simply making Holy Cross a better place to call home.

In the end, for Dubach what makes this city so rich is the people. It’s a commitment to each other and their well-being. When he started his business, he began connecting with people who saw his vision and commitment. He says he owes his success to the people of the city. The path to rebuilding communities is not easy. He says, “You’re either in or you’re out.” And others saw his dedication to rebuilding communities. That he wanted the old neighbors to connect with new ones.

Re-Development Group has since expanded to other neighborhoods around Indianapolis Center Township. Their mission has remained: “being an integral part of downtown redevelopment and community renewal.”

Dubach is not alone in his desire to grow neighborhoods. He says it has been a broad investment in the inner core of Indianapolis that has allowed community development corporations and residential areas to bloom. He cites amenities such as the Cultural Trail, the reinvestment in cultural districts like Mass Ave and Fountain Square, the new restaurants launching, and more. These amenities and a vision for building up Indianapolis has turned swamps into rich residences.