Old House, New Life in Fall Creek Place: An Urbanite Returns to Her City-Dwelling Roots
Last summer, Amy Jones and her daughter Laylah moved into their home in Fall Creek Place and started a new life. Laylah was a pre-K student at the Oaks Academy when Amy, a former social worker and widowed single mom, began taking steps to move downtown. She had been living in Mooresville, Indiana for the past 11 years. Several years ago, after hearing about the Oaks from co-workers and from a college friend who is the dean of students there, Amy knew that it was the perfect school for her young daughter and made plans to enroll her. Laylah loved school from day one, but the long drive back and forth from Mooresville twice a day was less than ideal, and Amy started looking for a way to be closer to school. She was also looking for more diversity in their surroundings: "I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and growing up, we moved all over--Cyprus, Capetown. I always lived in cities before I came to the U.S. [for university], and I love city life." She remembers, "When I graduated from high school, there were 100 kids in my class from 17 different nations. I want my daughter to experience some of that same diversity, instead of growing up in a bubble. Being around people who look different, with different ideas and different opinions--that's healthy, that's how we grow."
Last spring, Amy began checking out different neighborhoods around the urban core - Fountain Square, Holy Cross, and Fall Creek Place (which was her first choice because of proximity to the Oaks). She told her realtor, Mark Nottingham, that she wanted "a neighborhood that was up-and-coming, with a LOT of up and a little bit of coming." In the process of looking for a house that checked all the boxes, she took into account her own comfort level and the necessity of feeling safe as a single mom in an urban setting. Ultimately, Amy and Laylah found the right house just a few blocks away from the school, a remodeled Craftsman bungalow on a quiet street in Fall Creek Place. Amy says she experienced a variety of reactions from suburban neighbors when she mentioned where she was moving, ranging from surprise and disbelief to suggestions that she was out of her mind. Now, one year after settling in, she can answer the question, "Do you feel safe?" with a definite yes. "Sure, urban life is not all roses," she says. "Our trash can was stolen and it took a while for the city to replace it. We have had some issues with critters in the neighborhood--mice, rabbits, opossums or raccoons--which I didn't expect to find in the city. But the good far outweighs the bad."
Shortly after the Joneses moved in to their new home, several neighbors came over to welcome them, introducing themselves and bringing food. "What really surprised me is that it didn't take a huge effort on my part to get to know the neighbors here; everyone is very intentional about being neighborly, and we all look out for each other here," Amy said. After more than a decade living in a Mooresville subdivision, they only knew 4 of the neighbors. But after one year in Fall Creek Place, they know everyone on their block as well as a lot of other families around the neighborhood. And much has changed on their street in the past year; instead of Laylah being the only young kid on their block, she is now one of many, after three other families with young children have moved in. "We have more kids on our block now than we ever did during our 11 years living in the suburbs," says Amy. "They all play outside together, which is really great." She also described the real estate boom that's happening on the near Northside: "At least seven or eight developers have contacted me in the past few months asking for info on the houses next door [previously rentals], to see if I own them or if I can tell them who the owners are, because they are interested in buying the properties and rehabbing. There is almost nothing available in Fall Creek Place right now, to rent or buy, and all the empty lots are spoken for, because people are building new houses. And whenever houses here go on the market, they are selling right away, for prices above $250K."
When asked her favorite thing about her new neighborhood, Amy answers, "The sense of community here. Many people [in the city] don't live around the corner from their parents or relatives, so they have to create a support network for themselves. It takes a village, right? So my community now is made up of our neighbors, our church, our friends from the Oaks. We rely on each other; they are my village."