INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — M Development, a developer based in Aspen, Colorado, recently bought the 100-plus-acre DeHaan Estate and is now asking the City of Indianapolis to rezone it into commercial property.
However, some members of the Black community that live around the Estate say they’ve been left out of any conversations of future developments.
“They are going to build a little city behind a wall. And that little city behind the wall will affect everybody on the outside of the wall,” says State Representative Vanessa Summers. “They had talked to everyone else. But they neglected to talk to a couple of African American entities on the same strip.”
Summers says building on the property isn’t necessarily the issue, instead, it is not actually knowing what will be built. Summers says places like Light of the World, which sits just a few blocks down from DeHaan Estate, have been left out of development talks, alongside Eastern Star and Witherspoon Presbyterian Church.
M Development responded to I-Team 8’s request for comment after the story aired. A spokesperson for M Development says the organization did speak with Light of the World Church.
The organization gave I-Team 8 this statement:
“This situation has thrown us by surprise entire and honestly have no idea how and why this came about. We own real estate throughout the United States and have never had any such issue and certainly would never exclude any community members. We pride ourselves as being inclusive developers, proud owners and community members. We noticed and welcomed neighbors to the DeHaan Estate and made ourselves available for months to receive feedback, to which we implemented into our development plan. We did have a direct conversation with a Church, which was pleasant and ended with us promising to be good neighbors to each other. We look forward to creating a great project that will not only support the community, but something we can all be proud of.”
Summers says she filed an appeal with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development (MDC) to try slow the rezoning process down so that more members of the community could understand what changes to DeHaan Estate were being made. However, she says, even though the appeal was filed on time, it was not considered.
“Talk to me, talk to us, talk to the community, tell them what you’re doing. You know, I represent that community [and] they have no idea,” says Summers.
Summers and other pastors from nearby churches plan on attending the City County Council meeting Monday evening to voice their concerns.