Yes, redevelopment of the GM Stamping Plant site is a timely idea, but what is really best for this site for the long term?
Why not look at the entire neighborhood instead of just this old site? The existing neighborhood south of the site will eventually become desired for the up-and-coming generation to remodel, refurbish, add onto and even rebuild. Unfortunately, their time is not quite here.
For starters, extend Harding Street north to Washington Street, and eventually up to 16th Street and Lafayette Road. Reconstruct Oliver Avenue to include bike lanes, trees and landscape plantings, street lighting and bus shelters, establishing a modern urban street. A variety of retail shops, restaurants and even a grocery along the north side of Oliver would create an urban edge, with parking located north of the shops.
Reconstruct White River Parkway as a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined oasis, with a park-esque atmosphere, views of the river and downtown skyline and an additional 200-foot-wide green belt immediately west of the parkway penetrating the GM site.
The mayor’s Chinatown? Or even a new Little Mexico? No, primarily because ethnic districts require the ethnic or immigrant demographics to establish the need and the desire in the first place. Neighborhoods cannot be contrived as a new name “district” or a new “place” just because a marketing plan is unleashed, although the need for cohesion of community, connectivity and sense of place do remain strong.
Large-scale industrial re-uses could include a second Eli Lilly and Co. technology center and relocated Indianapolis Public Schools facilities, freeing up desirable properties they now control. Relocate Indiana University Health and IUPUI warehousing and storage-supply facilities to help alleviate and open up their many crowded campuses; relocate multiple outposts of Department of Public Works, Indy Parks, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and other facilities, while selling off unneeded city-owned parcels.
The Indianapolis Zoo could expand its maintenance and storage facilities, thus helping to alleviate its main campus for expanded exhibits.
The ultimate goal should always mandate that the uses be non-polluting, green, sustainable and make every effort to create new jobs, all for the long-term benefit of the larger community.•
Parsons operates a namesake landscape architecture and urban design firm which has done work on the Indiana University Neurological Center and 16 Park Apartments, among other projects.