GB Landrigan North Side Report: August 2019

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The August Issue of the GB Landrigan Monthly Washington Township Early Real Estate Report is now available.

Homes priced under $500,000 continue to find themselves in a seller’s market, with fewer than two months’ of available inventory. A slight softening of the $500,000 to $1 million market has occurred, with a still-respectable seven months of inventory. It is thought that some of this is explained by July being the traditional month for family vacations. Four homes sold above $1 million, providing 7.25 months of availability.

GB Landrigan North Side Report: July 2019

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The July Issue of the GB Landrigan Monthly Washington Township Early Real Estate Report is now available.

Almost all categories and neighborhoods report fewer than two months' worth of available inventory. Only in the above $1 million range does the inventory nudge above five months. The median sales price for all of Washington Township stands at $314,450, which compares with Central Indiana's figure of $299,900.

GB Landrigan North Side Report: June 2019

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The June Issue of the GB Landrigan Monthly Washington Township Early Real Estate Report is now available.

Buyers in Washington Township, particularly those seeking homes under $500,000, continue to encounter unusually low inventories. Just 1.7 months of available inventory awaits the discerning eye of buyers in the $250,000 - $500,000 range. The plight of those looking for a home under $250,000 is even tougher: less than one month’s inventory! Homeowners seem to be content staying where they are while large numbers of buyers want to live in the Township.

There are always fewer buyers for homes at the upper end. Even here, however, a supply of just over nine months of homes above $1 million is much lower than we normally expect. The $500,000-$1 million range hums along with a slightly more-balanced 3.83 months.

GB Landrigan North Side Report: May 2019

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The May issue of the GB Landrigan Monthly Washington Township Early Real Estate Report is now available.

The overall Central Indiana market is exceedingly brisk, with fewer than two months' worth of inventory currently available priced under $500,000. A typical market would see 4-6 months. Washington Township, always a dominant factor in the market, is even more hard-pressed for inventory.

Typically, the over-$500,000 market is more leisurely. Even here, however, the available months of inventory dropped from last month. 21 homes in this price range pended, including four above $1 million. Sales prices for these pendings will show up when they close over the next month or so.

Many readers have enjoyed our covers featuring artist's works provided by Eckert & Ross Fine Art in Butler-Tarkington. This month's cover features a C.W. Mundy painting of Holcomb Gardens at Butler-University.

School Visit: North Central High School

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After last month’s visit to re-emerging Shortridge High School, it was an obvious choice to tour the North Side’s largest high school: North Central.

When the school opened in 1956, Washington Township’s population was rapidly increasing and the township’s residents wanted a school that was closer to where their children lived. Until that point, most students attended Shortridge and now-closed Broad Ripple High Schools.

Originally housed around the corner in what is now Northview Middle School, North Central soon moved to its current building on 86th Street. It is the state’s fourth-largest non-online high school with approximately 3,600 students. Only suburban-North Side Carmel, far-West Side Ben Davis, and far-East Side Warren Central gather more students.  Its Alumni/ae Hall of Fame is huge and includes former Governor Mitch Daniels, former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, singer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, astronaut David Wolf, and entrepreneur Scott Jones.

Although it is not my alma mater, my sister attended and loved NCHS as did a very large percentage of my friends. All of this was in the late 70s and early 80s.  I went to its musicals, Jr. Spectacular variety shows, and quite a few other performances. Along with half the North Side, I took tennis lessons in Barbara Wynne’s massive Washington Township tennis program at North Central.  With thoughts of that specific time of my life in mind as I pulled into the parking lot, it would have seemed natural that a song from Boston, Steve Miller, or Aerosmith would start playing on the car radio. I was listening to NPR, though. Things change.

But what of North Central today?

My hour-and-a-half tour last week was conducted by two engaging parents. The group included a parochial middle school student who will be a freshman next year as well as an incoming student who recently arrived from Brazil. Their very friendly families joined us and we ventured forth.

My visit confirmed to me that North Central remains a miniature version of a city, albeit perhaps with fewer preppy outfits than I remember from the 1980s. It’s a comprehensive high school, in every meaning of that term. It offers the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs for the large percentage of students going on to college. Adjacent to NCHS is the J.Everett Light Center for career-track-minded people. North Central’s well-known music program, both choral and instrumental, continues to win statewide awards. Sports also continues to play a very strong role statewide.  Want to be a radio disc jockey? It’s here.

Some observations:

1. It was quiet for a high school! Whether it was the amount of space allotted to each student or the carpeting in most hallways, it seemed much quieter/calmer than I remembered;

2. The building is huge, of course, but very well-maintained. Facilities appear to be up to today’s reasonable standards. The recent natatorium is top-notch, the auditorium is still the landmark it has long been, and, in general, things seemed light and bright;

3. The students themselves were pleasant and in a good mood. That could be due to lunch periods fast approaching, of course, but it’s always a good sign;

4. The school feels like a small liberal arts college - just enclosed. So many choices and possibilities to sample. It offers a wider range of clubs, sports, and activities than is found at most schools. I enjoyed stopping by the art gallery that, that day, featured works related to the Buffalo Soldiers of the Civil War;

5. The school is very proud to note that 824 students (out of 3,600) had a first language other than English. Of these, Spanish, Karen (Sino-Tibet), and Arabic were the top three languages spoken by NCHS students other than English. Until this visit, I’d never heard of the language Karen, nor that we had a significant Tibetan population. I not only learned a bit from this trip but think even better of our city as a whole than when I went in.

6. As it happens, the first people I ran into when entering the building were Realtors Chris and Valerie Scherrer. They reported that they could not have been happier with their choice to send their children to North Central.

7. Like Shortridge, North Central accepts students from outside of its school district. While there are a few special arrangements required, many families living outside of Washington Township bring their children to North Central.

My key take-away from North Central was not one of nostalgia, but one of a living opportunity center. While I never attended a school with even one-third the population of NCHS, I very much appreciate that it is because of this size that the aspiring actor, engineer, author, or mathematician is given options that are often not otherwise possible.

For more information: www.nchs.cc

School Visit: Shortridge High School

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School Visit Series: Shortridge High School

My continuing tour of schools that serve my North Side clients landed me at Shortridge High School this snowy morning. Named Indiana’s 23rd best by US News & World Report last year, I was keen to see both the building and how its most recent incarnation has worked.

To talk about Shortridge without mentioning its history would be unfair to the reader as it plays such a large part of its current story.

Shortridge was Indiana’s first public high school, founded in 1864. Its current building at 34th & North Meridian, built in the 1920s and renovated several times since, was named last year by Architectural Digest as Indiana’s “most beautiful” public high school. With good reason. It is a collection of carved limestone, woodwork, broad hallways, even a courtyard. And a brand new gym. The impressive Caleb Mills Auditorium was the original home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. And, of course, there are the alums: Vonnegut, Spruance, Lugar, Wakefield, Eskenazi, Lacy, DeFrantz, Glick, Jacobs, Myers, SerVaas, and so many more. People who have guided, protected, informed, and entertained Indianapolis and our country.

Few schools have reinvented themselves as frequently as Shortridge. Before the 1920s, it was Downtown and served as one of only three high schools. In the 1920s, it controversially moved to the North Side. In the 1950s, it could have served as the setting for the old television show “Happy Days” and had been named among the top 38 high schools in America by Time magazine. In the late 1960s-early 1970s, it reflected the turmoil brought on by the great changes in our society that spurred suburbia and population movement.

For the next decade, it developed a performing arts program of some note. But it was also threatened with closure on an almost-annual basis. Given that students were often attending school board meetings and arranging public events to keep the school open, more than a few people joked that the threat served as a very effective civics class. It was finally closed in 1981, only to reopen as a middle school several years later. More recently, Shortridge once again became a high school with a magnet program based on law and public policy.

Four years ago, Shortridge became the home for the district’s International Baccalaureate program. I’ve discussed this academically-tough program in a previous blog. This year, Shortridge also became home to IPS’s Arts & Humanities program that was previously at the former Broad Ripple High School. A career-track program is also now part of the school.

High school students are not assigned schools. They select from unique programs at each of the system’s four high schools. Changes in the way the state funds schools also allow students from outside the IPS district to attend if there is room. Shortridge now has approximately 1,000 students.

Madeline, a senior who is president of the student body, was my personal tour guide. She lives in Brownsburg and travels to Shortridge each day. She initially went to a well-known private high school on the North Side, but transferred to Shortridge her sophomore year. She plans to earn both business and law degrees and work in some area of social improvement. Among her many extracurricular activities, she is a school archivist – something that immediately endeared her to me for reasons those who know me will understand.

I look for general impressions in these school visits without getting too far into “the weeds.” Among the things that caught my attention were:

1. Each grade has an off-campus excursion such as camping, going to Washington, D.C., Chicago, etc. Many of this year’s seniors are going to Panama. These aren’t all-paid trips, but are paid-for by the students over the course of two years.

2. With the realignment of IPS this past year, I wondered about sports. All of the usual high school varsity sports are offered. Did I mention the great new gym and recently-lighted football field?

3. Madeline emphasized how approachable her teachers have been;

4. All students, regardless of which program they follow, attend homeroom together where they bond;

5. Each grade meets with principal Shane O’Day each month as a group;

6. Special programs have been proving popular: a Purdue-bound arrangement, an Ernst & Young program;

7. The students I ran into in the front office, at the door, in the halls, were all polite and friendly. The halls were quiet while classes were being conducted;

8. The historic building, renovated several times, was clean, well-maintained, and orderly.

9. In a previous SHS incarnation, dozens of Hoosier Group paintings (T.C. Steele, William Forsyth, etc.) used to hang in the third floor gallery. Today, I spotted a large Forsyth and few others by other artists. The remainder of the collection went to the Indiana Historical Society back in the 1980s. Madeline says that they are trying to arrange for a few of them to return;

10. The school seems to be “gelling” very well. Given the incoming students from IPS high schools that closed last year, as well as the addition of new programs to the IB program, there was understandable concern that the school would become Balkanized. Teams and clubs made a point of including students from all constituencies and this seems to have worked well;

11. As I left the marble-floored entry to the outside, I ran into a parent who had recently enrolled his child. They had recently arrived from the devastation of Puerto Rico. He reported that he had been very happy with what he found at Shortridge.

If all of this seems a bit too idyllic, I understand.

I admit to being predisposed to wanting Shortridge to succeed, given my Butler-Tarkington background and my many friends and family who have attended in the past. And my visit was only for 1 ½ hours. And my guide was a highly-motivated student body president. And no high school exists without angst-ridden teenagers. And it’s impossible to have an entire faculty of teachers-of-the-year.

But it was clear that Madeline was transparent and sincere.

And teachers and students were smiling, even in the JROTC class.

For more information: www.myips.org/shs




School Visit: CFI School 70

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Visited January 11, 2019

As some readers know, I've been touring many of the North Side schools where my clients' children attend. Yesterday, I had a wonderful visit to the Sidener Academy for high-ability students. Today's stop was to Meridian-Kessler's increasingly-popular CFI Nicholson School 70.

"CFI" stands for Center for Inquiry, a platform adopted by a group of IPS schools that now incorporates the respected International Baccalaureate program. Shorthandedly, the IB program seeks to help a student realize his/her strengths and challenges and his/her place in the broader world. Meridian-Kessler's other IPS school, CFI Bingham School 84, which I previously visited and enjoyed, has had the program for about ten years and has proved so popular that students from outside of the district attend when there is space.

CFI School 70 is a K-8 school now in its second year of the newly-adopted program. It is led by Christine Collier, who I've heard referenced before as being IPS's "Mother of CFI." She has served as principal or administrator with each school that has become a CFI school.

What I found today in my tour:

1. An historic. clean, apparently well-maintained building;

2. Students who appeared to be in a good mood and polite -- something made even more remarkable as the entire school was leaving a convocation in the gym and filling the halls;

3. Well-prepared teachers. In the case of the math teacher I met, very serious consideration was given to what a student might do in college and the classes he/she should take in middle-school so as not to create problems down the road. I like long-term thinking like that.

4. A tour that was well-informed and proud of the school without any "fluff."

5. Art, science, and gym classes each week (this apparently needs to be said these days);

6. A reluctance to assign a great deal of homework, other than approximately 40 minutes of math. The school believes that students should learn by doing things with their families, read books, and so forth;

7. Parental involvement is key and expected.

I'll say this: I liked the "feel" of the school. It seemed to blend elements of most of the public and private schools I attended and enjoyed as a child.

As with each of these popular schools, it is sometimes a bit tricky being admitted. Indeed, most of 70's classes are full. There is a lottery system IPS has put into place. There are some preferences such as siblings who already attend, whether you live within five blocks of the school, and a couple of others.

For more information, you can call (317) 226-4270.

My next visit will be to Shortridge High School, now the International Baccalaureate high school for IPS as well as its Arts & Humanities program. Named by US News & World Report as last year's 23rd best high school in Indiana, I'm looking forward to seeing the reasons for its recent popular press. — in Meridian-Kessler, Indianapolis.

School Visits: Sidener Academy

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Visited January 10, 2019

I've been making a point to visit the schools that many of my North Side clients' children attend. I try to do this during the school day so that I can see the school in action.

In the past, I've been able to see why Herron High School and CFI School 84 have waiting lists and are so well-liked. I also enjoyed touring the new Riverside High School, Herron's sister school. I've also been given a tour of the International School's lower school campus, but it was after-hours.

Today I had the pleasure of being given a tour of Sidener Academy by Megan Federer, the school's Parent Involvement Educator. Sidener (formerly known as School 59) is the IPS high-ability elementary/middle school. A one story Mid-Century building located at the corner of Kessler and Keystone next to Glendale, Sidener regularly tests at or near the top of all schools in the state on ISTEP.

I was impressed by several things:

1. The children seemed alert, attentive, and well-mannered -- but not coercively so;

2. There was student art everywhere -- even on the ceilings!;

3. The administration seems attentive to the often-unique needs of high-ability students. As an example, counselors are periodically available to work with students to help bridge any socializing difficulties they may encounter;

4. The teachers I ran into all seemed genuinely interested in what they were doing. They seem to have been given greater autonomy in creating their classroom environment than I expected.

Sidener often has a waiting list for each grade. Students are not limited to those who reside in the IPS district, but there is a formula for determining preference in admissions. All students also must pass an ability test in both language arts and math -- not just one or the other.

Tomorrow's visit will be Mary Nicholson CFI School 70 in Meridian-Kessler. Shortridge, Allisonville, Nora, and North Central will be in my next round. At some point, I will tour most of the remaining public, parochial, and private schools on or near the North Side/Washington Township -- including those I myself attended!

[photo from nomeancity.com]