Cool And Contemporary

David and Kelly Snyder in their downtown home

Tony Valainis

When David and Kelly Snyder moved from a conventional suburban home on a Westfield cul-de-sac to a custom contemporary cube in 2017, the big change left some friends scratching their heads.

“We did have the experience of inviting people over and hearing, ‘What have you done?’” David says. But they are hardly alone. Contemporary homes on the perimeter of downtown have become one of the most prominent options for an urban single-family home.

Three floors, three bedrooms, and a three-car detached garage on a triple lot feel just right for the Snyders and their young daughter, Juliette. David hopes the downstairs rec room and rooftop deck will make the home a gathering spot as Juliette grows—a place where he and Kelly can stay in the loop of her teenage life. For now, they’re especially glad for the house’s “drop zone”—lose an attached garage, and a place to unload bags and wet boots becomes essential. So are well-sealed and -insulated windows that keep a constant thrum of engines outside.

The proliferation of boxy houses started as a post-recession trend when building took off again downtown. “I think ‘modern’ and ‘urban’ are just tied together in a lot of minds,” says Mark Nottingham, owner of Plat Collective, a real-estate broker with a downtown concentration. “There’s also an element of, ‘Hey, if I wanted my house to look like it belonged in the suburbs, I’d move to the suburbs.’”

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Developer King Park Development Corporation, The Re-Development Group, and David Weekley Homes
Parking Mostly detached garages
Walk Score 66
Price $300,000 and up for market-rate homes[/sidenote]The Monon16 development—around 60 homes, both affordable and market-rate—is filling vacant land in Kennedy-King and other neighborhoods northeast of College Avenue and 16th Street. Located in a developing community, it strives to remain inclusive while it brings in business and bigger price tags. That approach reassured the Snyders that they weren’t buying into an area on its way to becoming a suburb within the city.

Two story brick house in downtown Indianapolis neighborhood
Neighborhoods near the Monon Trail are a hotbed of boxy, modern construction. The Monon16 development has room for 60 new homes close to this stark three-bedroom.

The suburbs wouldn’t be fertile ground for the performace-art event that debuted the year the Snyders moved in. Called PreEnact Indy, the quirky festival re-created three blocks along 16th as they might look in an optimistic vision of the future. Two years later, “it’s becoming real,” David says. “There was a fake coffee shop where Provider is now.” In addition to that dynamite cafe, Greek’s Pizza, Cannon Ball Brewing Company, and West Fork Whiskey Co. have also opened.

Waking up to a train on their first morning wasn’t a pleasant surprise, but they have adjusted—with a nudge from David’s mom: “She told me, ‘Trains are the sound that things are up and going.’”

First thing you noticed after moving in? 16th Street is louder during the week than it was when we saw the house, on a Saturday afternoon. How’s living right on the Monon Trail? It has no downside, just opportunity for walks, bike rides, and conversation—especially when we’re grilling. Ever miss the cul-de-sac? Only its closeness. Neighbors were more visible, leading bigger groups to hang out in their front yards, whereas here they chillax in back.