updated: 10/30/2008 1:00:46 PM

[UPDATED] Angie's List Adding 400 Jobs, Pumping Millions Into Redevelopment

Inside INdiana Business.com Report

 Chief Executive Officer Bill Osterle says the redevelopment initiative expands on the company's strong presence in the Indianapolis neighborhood.

Angie's List is making a multi-million dollar commitment to redevelop an Indianapolis neighborhood and adding 400 jobs to its national headquarters. Chief Executive Officer Bill Osterle says it may be the most significant announcement in the company's history. He says the investment to focus on an area just east of downtown could be as much as $8 million. Osterle is also predicting a renaissance for the area, which is part of the city's Holy Cross Neighborhood and centers around Whiskey Hill, one of the highest points in Indianapolis.

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Press Release

INDIANAPOLIS (October 30, 2008) – In spite of weak national economic conditions, Angie’s List today is announcing a major initiative to redevelop a Near Eastside neighborhood.

The $6-8 million investment will focus on the area just east of downtown Indianapolis that houses Angie's List's national headquarters. CEO Bill Oesterle said he expects to add about 400 new jobs in the next three to five years.

He also predicted a renaissance for the area bordered north by Ohio Street, south by East Washington Street, to the west by Interstate 65/70 and to the east by Highland Avenue. The area is part of the Historic Holy Cross Neighborhood and centers around Whiskey Hill, the third highest point in Indianapolis.

“Our business continues to perform well despite of the national turmoil." Oesterle said. "As long as our business continues to grow, we are going to continue to invest in our people and in our neighborhood. We see great promise in the years to come, and we're willing to put our money where our mouth is. We invite other entrepreneurs to be a part of our project."

The Whiskey Hill Initiative is an effort to bring a group of organizations together to undertake a comprehensive approach to neighborhood redevelopment. Early participants include the Holy Cross Neighborhood, The National Bank of Indianapolis, real estate development firm Henry Amalgamated and individual Angie's List employees.

"There's something special going on in this neighborhood, and we're doing it at a grassroots level," Oesterle said. "The financial investment my partners and I have made is significant, but it pales in comparison to the personal investment I've seen from people in this area who want to bring this neighborhood back."

Among the new enterprises already in place or coming soon:

Commercial property rehabilitation
Angie's List and/or its associated companies have purchased about 20 properties, cleared lots of debris, rehabbed and occupied 11 buildings. In addition to space necessary for the Angie’s List expansion, the site houses another six entrepreneurial companies. “We hope to recruit several more,” added Oesterle.

Residential rehabilitation
Angie's List and/or its associated companies have rehabilitated six residences in the area and hope to work with other community partners to encourage new residential development.

Neighborhood small business development
-Angie's List Vending, Inc. -- founded by three current Angie's List employees, will begin operations in 2009 offers vending services to the businesses and residents of the Whiskey Hill area.
-Jerry's Diner -- will open for breakfast service in 2009.
-AL Campus Kids, LLC -- Day care currently operates in two rehabbed, formerly vacant homes; will be opened to neighborhood residents in 2009

Neighborhood Services
-ATM – Angie’s List is negotiating with area banks, including The National Bank of Indianapolis, the largest local bank serving Indianapolis, to locate an automated teller machine in the neighborhood in Q4 2008
-Angie’s List is providing 24-hour private patrols covering the entire area in an effort improve security for businesses and residents.

Angie Hicks and Oesterle founded Angie’s List, a consumer rating service, in 1995 in Columbus, Ohio, and modeled it after Unified Neighbors, an Indianapolis based organization. Oesterle and Hicks bought Unified Neighbors and relocated the company that had been reborn as Angie's List to office space in Carmel in 1996.

Attracted by more affordable rent, Angie's List relocated to its current neighborhood in 2001, renting one floor of a building along East Washington Street. The privately held company now owns and/or occupies for business use11 nearby buildings, along with its original floor space. Three formerly vacant homes have been remodeled; two are used for Angie's List day care; one is residential property. Ten parcels have been cleaned up and serve as parking lots.

Angie's List currently employs about 400 workers at its Indianapolis headquarters.

Oesterle said he's witnessed a great turnaround in the neighborhood since 2001.

“You might think that having an ATM isn't that big of a deal," Oesterle said. "But it speaks to the idea that this is a safe neighborhood with enough pedestrian traffic to make placing an ATM a money-making venture. That wouldn't have happened here seven years ago -- or even last year. It's a tangible sign that this neighborhood isn't just coming back -- it's here."

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Angie’s List is where thousands of consumers share their ratings and reviews on local contractors and companies in more than 400 different categories. Currently, more than 650,000 consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them find the right contractor or company for the job they need done. Members have unlimited access to the list via Internet or phone; receive the Angie’s List magazine, which includes articles on home improvement and maintenance, consumer trends and scam alerts; and they can utilize the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Get more information about Angie’s List at http://www.angieslist.com Read Angie’s blog at http://www.angiehicksblog.com.

Holy Cross Neighborhood -- A Look Back

The Angie's List campus lies within the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association on the near East Side of Indianapolis. Boundaries are Michigan Street, Arsenal and State streets, Washington Street and I-65/70.

George Pogue, one of Indianapolis' first settlers, established his first cabin circa 1820 at the corner of what is now Michigan Street and Pogue's Run Creek. In 1822, his widow, Cassa Ann Pogue, received a tract of land just south of what is now Highland Park. In 1832, that land was transferred to Noah Noble, future governor of Indiana.

Governor Noble and his family lived on Market Street. Eighty acres of land remained in the family until 1898 when his family sold it to the city with the stipulation that the family home be razed and converted into a park.

Highland Park is centerpiece of the Holy Cross Neighborhood, Indianapolis' second-highest point. It offers one of the best spots in the city to view the downtown skyline. Governor Noble established several orchards in the area, particularly peach, apple and sugar maple trees. The largest oak tree still standing in Highland Park is said to have been planted by the governor's wife, Catherine. In homage to the Noble family and the history of the neighborhood, Angie's List established an orchard on its campus in 2008.

The neighborhood declined after World War II and again after the construction of the I-65/70 loop.

Renaissance

The Holy Cross revival began in 1998 when The Redevelopment Group began rehabbing and building residential properties. Angie's List arrived in 2001. Angie's List has preserved the fire pole and key markers in the neighborhood's historic fire house, which houses the company's national Call Center. Other improvements in the works include:

-The city of Indianapolis' Super Bowl Legacy Project will build a Super Bowl practice facility to the grounds of Tech High School.

-The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development has designated Holy Cross as one of its "Unsung Indy" program, which is designed to promote urban neighborhoods.

-The Redevelopment Group is nearing completion on a new condominium project at Highland and Sturm streets.

-Holy Cross is included in the Near Eastside Neighborhood, one of six Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative (GINI) demonstration projects. GINI will provide operating support for staffing dedicated to community building, quality of life planning and plan implementation activities; technical support for quality of life planning; financial and technical assistance for organizational development; and seed funding for plan implementation. GINI has already helped steer about $10 million in infrastructure improvements to the area.


Holy Cross Neighbors (a partial list)

Holy Cross Neighborhood Association
• Patrick Dubach
• Troy Smythe

The Redevelopment Group, Patrick Dubach

Near East Side Community Organization (NESCO)
• Chuck Coleman
• Tracy Heaton

Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiative, Joe Bowling

John H. Boner Community Center/Superbowl Near Eastside Legacy Project
-James Taylor
-Katie Pfeffer

Shepherd Community Center
-Jay Height
-Heidi Baniszewski

Horizon House
-Carter Wolf
-Bobbie O'Connor


Source: Angie's List

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