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Abandoned homes torn down to make way for South 8th Street development

News 18 spoke with Jeff Rider about his vision for the neighborhood, and why it will be a benefit to more than the businesses and people calling the new developments home.

Posted: Jun 25, 2019 5:46 AM
Updated: Jun 25, 2019 5:54 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A Lafayette neighborhood with a not so good reputation is getting a chance to turn it around.

"Boarded homes and broken glass," said Lafayette resident Barbara Jones. "You know, it's just an attraction for people to come that are unfortunately homeless."

It's a historical Lafayette neighborhood that's seen better days.

"A month or so ago, there was a shooting a street over," added Jones. "It's nothing to see four, five or six homeless people at a time."

Katie Latta has lived in a South 8th Street apartment for two years. She said she became aware of the growing problems while walking her dog about a year ago.

"There was a bed shoved in the bushes, and there were people sleeping on it," Latta explained.

Latta believes abandoned homes have become a magnet for the homeless and stray animals.

"No one bothered me, but it definitely made me uncomfortable," she added.

But all that is about to change.

"We definitely have the vision, and we see it, and we know that there's so much potential," said developer Jeff Rider.

He's been buying up abandoned homes along the street in the Ellsworth-Romig neighborhood since 2012.

Four have already been demolished, and two more are getting ready to come down to make way for new mixed use developments.

"This is our home," said Rider. "We're going to do business here for many years to come, and we just want to see really good things happen."

Latta is hoping for the same.

"People go by what they've heard from the past," Latta said. "So, if they can bring something in that's new and a different kind of environment, then maybe 8th Street will be known as an okay place to live, instead of not so good."

Once the remaining two homes are torn down, Rider said there will be a little more than two acres of land to build on.

There are no exact plans yet, but Rider said he has interest from future tenants.

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