GREENFIELD — A plan to turn a downtown parking area into a gathering space for community festivals and events is moving forward.

Construction plans for the North Street Living Alley should be approved in coming weeks, and construction is on schedule to start this spring, city officials said.

Greenfield was among 11 Hoosier communities to receive a grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs for a community improvement project; this month, the city was recognized at an celebration in Indianapolis for its work to turn the alley between North and Main streets in downtown Greenfield into a community gathering space where festivals and other events can be conducted.

Plans call for the area to feature greenery, landscaping and artwork. Trellises draped with Boston Ivy and other greenery will be installed along the west side of the alley, festival lights will be hung, a pedestrian path will be built and curb bump-outs will be added along Main Street to slow traffic.

Currently, the alley serves as a parking space for downtown businesses. Once construction is complete, it will still offer more than a dozen parking spaces. Additionally, it will give the community a place to host festivals to draw residents downtown, where officials hope to see more shopping and retail in the next few years. The alley will be a community amenity that will attract more activity to the heart of Greenfield, Mayor Chuck Fewell said.

The city received a $44,500 grant for the project from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs; the Hancock County Tourism Commission and the city of Greenfield are chipping in about $65,000.

The project is the first major undertaking of the Greenfield Coalition, which brought together community stakeholders to give life to the city’s 2013 downtown revitalization plan, which includes a food district; a health and fitness district; and pedestrian-friendly promenades with residential, retail and commercial space. City officials also plan to pursue grants to give the façades of downtown buildings a face-lift.

Ultimately, city officials want to create a Riley Literary Trail to run from the Pennsy Trail through downtown Greenfield. The trail would be loosely based on the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis. The group hopes the North Street Living Alley’s pedestrian path will serve as the first leg of the trail.

“It’s exciting,” said city planner Joanie Fitzwater. “What used to be a forgotten alley is going to turn into something much larger and more beautiful.”

Shelley Swift, a member of the coalition who is also the program manager of Greenfield Main Street, is eager to see the project move forward.

The community should prepare to see many good things happen downtown in coming months and years, she said.

“Awesome visions from the 2013 downtown revitalization plan are starting to come to fruition,” Swift said. “I think it’s impetus for more good things to come in the future.”

City recognized for alley beautification project

This month, the city of Greenfield and the Greenfield Coalition were recognized at the Office of Community and Rural Affairs 10-year celebration for the North Street Living Alley project, which will turn an alley downtown into a space for community gatherings.

The city received a $44,500 grant to help make the project a reality.

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or