City orders BW3 work to stop

August 21, 2008
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Workers were trying to figure out what to do next after the city's compliance department issued a stop-work order this morning on the new Buffalo Wild Wings. The order threatens a $2,500 fine for any company or individual found in violation. Catch up on the story here. (IBJ Photo/Robin Jerstad)

BW3 stop-work order
  • Finally, someone grew a set of balls. Play by the rules kids, and everyone will get along.
  • That's great news.
  • I love the pic of the workers reflected in the glass - cool photo! The building is pretty hideous. I was looking at all the other restaurants along Washington Street and noticed that NONE of the others has such an offensive glaring facade.
  • This is great tragedy. In my country, BW3 would be crown jewel of main street.
  • This is GREAT news. BW3s must play by the same rules as everyone else. And honestly, who cares if they decide not to stay in downtown Indy. Chain resaurants like theirs are a dime a dozen.

    Kudos to whomever placed the stop-work order!!
  • It's unfortunate that it came to this, but this is the right move at this point.
  • I agree completely. This is well deserved.
  • I'm grabbing some popcorn and a soda... I can't wait to see how this plays out.
  • They were told that the city would issue a stop work order if they did not comply, what did they think was going to happen?!?
  • Great point Borat. This design might be appropriate for Kazakhstan, but not downtown Indy. Context is so important to appropriate desgin. Glad the stop work was issued, but I hope that this gets worked out because BW's is one of the few chains I actually patronize. But until then, Scotty's anyone?
  • Hmmm Scotty's here I come, in a few months. Good. I'm glad the city is following up one what they say they are going to do. The nerve of this company to submit the same thing when asked to change it, and not comply with the rules.

    This will be fun to see how it plays out.
  • Didn;t Pete get in trouble with the city a couple years back with the Broad Ripple BW3's renovation? Like others, I like BW3, and Pete is obviously doing well, so its not anything Anti Pete. He and his wife make very generous contributions to CF, and he is a pretty good guy.

    But rules is rules, and this was just f&*%ing stoopid. I hope they get it all worked out and maybe Cory with throw us all a party down there when they open. :)

    Pete might even show up.
  • Although I don't think the facade is all that bad, rules are rules and a blantant middle finger to the City should be dealt with appropriately. Congrats Code Compliance!

    On a side note, I would like to ask that people refrain from posting emails and telephone numbers for the various people involved in all steps of the planning/development process. Sure, they can be found on various sites if you search for them, but to post them here on a message board where emotions can run high is doing a disservice to the individual who is having their contact information plastered for all to use.

    Certainly, a general contact line such as the Mayor's Action Center isn't bad to post, but think of how you would feel if it was done to you. City Staff is already over-worked and under-paid. Throw in 50 angry callers to your day and I am sure that you would not be very happy.

  • Shame on those making personal attacks on this guy, Watson and not knowing him.
    Much of the commentary on this is/was innaccurate. Almost like a gossip tabloid.
    Let the city and the guy work it out without everyones hot air.

    I prefer Hooter's and their ugly orange trade dress, anyway.
  • I'm going to throw my dissenting opinion into the ring.

    To start with, I think the new BW3 facades look stupid, no matter where they are. The one downtown is no exception. I also think it was entirely out of line for them to try to ignore compliance and just do whatever they feel like. That attitude helps no one.

    Where I have a bit of an issue is with this city's Division of Compliance downtown. Pretend for a minute you're a tourist walking around downtown for the first time. Everything looks uninviting, by my estimation, over 50% of street level entrances are offices and non-public spaces. There are few exceptions that stick out and make areas feel more welcoming. The giant conical fermenter hanging off the Ram, the big marquees on the theaters, the giant neon Rock Bottom sign, and the now Dunkin' Donuts sign. Besides that, everything is nondescript. It looks like a ghost town most nights. Unless you know better, you don't feel like you should be out on the streets.

    Just because a handful of restaurants and bars are going to want to invest in a gaudy exterior doesn't mean everyone wants to. It makes the classic store fronts seem that much more unique and elegant. From what I can tell, they didn't irreversibly damage the exterior of the building, they just built a big shell around it which could be removed if they move out. It's for that reason I say why not let them create a big flashy monster of a facade. Then you can say Fogo de Chao is the next block up from the big yellow and black bar.

    Chain restaurants may be plaguing our city, but downtown is not expanding at the rate it once was. I welcome most any development there, especially development that encourages street level commercial operations on high rises.

    I both live in a historic neighborhood and support historic preservation so I'm by no means for tearing down and starting over. It just seems that by using other larger cities as examples, modern developments can coexist with historic structures, and I see our Division of Compliance as inhibiting this.

    Besides, if they can erect something like 333 Mass in a historic district, how can a facade change be that detrimental to the core of downtown?
  • Besides that, everything is nondescript. It looks like a ghost town most nights. Unless you know better, you don’t feel like you should be out on the streets.

    Don't know if you have been downtown in the last say, ummm 5 years, but downtown isn't a ghost town at night, unless your calling just this block of BW3's downtown and the only portion that is a ghost town. Maybe you should spend some time out there past 7:00pm. There is still activity going on.
  • Rodney-
    333 Mass got approval prior to that stretch of Mass Ave becoming a historic district. If I remember correctly, it was within days of the designation.
  • Thanks, MikeW. I don't know where Rodney spends his nights but it's obviously not downtown. I'm there, or at least through there a couple nights a week and there is always plenty of activity past 7:00p.m. The lone exception would be the block of East Washington where that hideous BW3 is located. Congratulations to the City Code Compliance. Finally, they did something right. Has Rodney ever been to downtown Cincinnati at night? Now that's a ghost town.
  • Rodney-

    You make vaild points; some that I made in the initial post about this facade. These things can add to a downtown and aren't always bad. Also, I agree that there are many other items APPROVED that are far more intrusive. HOWEVER, Downtown is far and away a ghost town and I find it hard to believe that there are very many people that are concerned about their safety when being out and about the Mile-Square. Just because there are homeless people downtown does not mean that they are also criminals.

    Its sad that people are so accustomed to so many downtowns being vacant that any street activity where there are people walking about AFTER DARK makes them feel unsafe.
  • The ghost town comment was meant to be an exaggeration. I understand that it's much easier to assume that I'm some guy who never goes out and just makes blanket comments on the internet, but I lived in the Block building for a couple of years and would spend every night outside downtown. I'm now a 15-20 minute walk (on foot, and a walk that I do make without feeling unsafe) from downtown. I'm the demographic that is currently helping fuel downtown's growth. From my experience, if there's not a convention in town and you're not on South Meridian or the circle, foot traffic is scant. It's better than it was in the past, but it's still not bustling.

    I think Cincinnati is both an example of what we want to be and what we don't want to be. Cincinnati has far worse urban sprawl than we do. Downtown is not an epicenter, it's more of a combination of smaller cities all pressed together, but at the same time their highway system better accommodates that than ours does. On the other hand, they have a much better sense of local culture there. A lot of things they take pride in as being Cincinnati.

    I hate comparing Indianapolis to Chicago because we're not the same thing at all, but you can walk around Chicago at 1am on a Wednesday night and it's more busy than South Meridian any night of the week here.

    I guess my point in the ghost town comment is that a lot of things could be done to bring more people downtown at night. It currently feels like the majority of people walking outside late at night are here for a convention and the locals tend to drive in for dinner and drive out. Increased commercial usage of the ground floor of high rises is one of those things that would promote foot traffic. Mass Ave is a good example of this. It's a complex problem and involves reduced surface lots, fewer self-standing parking structures, more grocery and convenience stores and a ton of other stuff. But hindering businesses that want to create street facing, ground floor commercial developments is definitely counterproductive.
  • I also don't feel that downtown investment has slowed as Rodney put it........perhaps within Circle Center Mall but downtown restuarants have been springing up everywhere the past couple of years........The Capital Grill, Harry and Izzy's, The Weber Grill, the building of JW Marriott, Fogo de Chao, and soon to open.......Scotty's and Adobo....
  • Here is the lesson for the business owner: Next time hire competent professionals to advise you.
  • I agree with SE Guy here, and Rodney. But I just want to make a point of how sick it makes me cheering this on. Celebrating a code compliance stop-work order like they just caught a bank robber is ludicrous and it shows the character of people on this blog to besmirch the integrity of a man dealing with labyrinthine city codes while trying to also navigate business contrtacts, hiring, purchasing, franchising agreements, and other business items. It is obvious he was not well served by his architect, who he decided he would trust. I don't blame him as the incompetence shown by Code Compliance up to this point has been ridiculous, and now that they look bad they are trying to force Mr. Watson's hand. I'm glad that people here would side with the capricious government agents rather than with the businessman who is trying to improve a part of downtown in desperate need of street life and vitality.

    At least CorrND and CoryW were reasonable enough to understand that this is a sad circumstance and didn't want to see this come to this. If we had more reasoned minds like theirs pulling for development in this city, we would surely be better off.
  • Amen, SE Guy.

    There is also competent FREE advice available from the real estate people at Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. and from the CDCs that deal in the Regional Center and historic districts. Not to mention from Jeff York and the rest of the city current planning staff...there's a planner on call during normal business hours at DMD.

    This expensive mistake by the business owner was entirely avoidable.
  • Well, even though someone thinks his contact info shouldn't be up here, the fact is Jeff York (the planner referred to on this) works in the public sector, and if he can't take it he should go work for a private company (and even then, your work information isn't always private). So, if you want to contact him and voice your opinion (and don't feel like searching the City's website), regardless of which side you're on in this matter, his e-mail is and his work phone is 327-5847.
  • Spectacular news! Jeff York, you are a true hero to the city of Indianapolis.
  • I would just like to mention that Jeff York is a class act that responded to my email from yesterday even AFTER the stop work had already been issued today.
  • I'll second CorrND's comment about Jeff York. I was the one who originally posted his contact information in the previous thread... Maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I did. The fact is he responded to my email promptly, explained the situation and let me know who I could contact in Code Compliance if I had further questions.
  • The BW3s facade is very similar to the yellow mural that nobody seems to have a problem with directly across the street. Yes, the front of BW3s may not be as artistic, but I don't remember any huge uproars about the mural when it was painted and the yellow from the BW3s definitely can't be said to clash with the look and feel of the neighborhood if it matches the yellow across the street!
  • Kate-
    The yellow is the least of this treatment's problems. The real sin was removing the display windows typical of downtown commercial buildings and replacing them with small, suburban windows you'd find on stand-alone office buildings that in no way relate to the proportions and symmetry found above. Not to mention the ugly dryvit like material and faux-stone base that just screams cheap. The yellow, along with the black-and-white border is just insult to injury. Nothing about this treatment is inviting to passers-by who may not know what BW3s is--why in the world would they be enticed to enter and see what is inside? BW3s should thank the city for requiring an improvement to this mess because in the end, it will help their business.
  • Okay, let's approach what it wrong with the BW's facade from a completely different angle. Let's pretend that the color doesn't offend, that the stone doesn't match, etc. Everyone who argues that this BW's will bring life to a stretch of downtown that is not alive needs to understand that the windows in the facade are not. They are fake windows. The restroom is up against the front facade, meaning from the street you approach a building with no light coming from black windows, you walk down a hallway past restrooms, and THEN you enter the bar/dining space.

    All it brings in its current design to downtown is a sign that lights up. That is the only life it brings. There is no connection between the BW's and Washington Street. It will look like a dark, dormant space from the street.

    This isn't doing any favors for the city; it isn't doing any favors for the business. Not being able to see inside from the street isn't very inviting and will turn many potential customers off.

    The owners selected a p!ss poor designer. They should accept that, hire someone new, fix it, and move on, instead of defending the turd of a design that they have. And I can tell you, as an architect, it's not that difficult of a thing to fix!
  • I second Jason's comments. This ground level facade cause the building to become significantly disengaged from the public domain. Because of this design flaw this won't improve the streetscape, the street life, the safety of the area. This is basic Jane Jacobs reading.
  • Kate you are 100% correct about the yellow mess on the NORTH side of the street. That mural is horrible, yet nobody seems to mind that. If any of you walk past any of the buildings on the northside of the street at night you will notice a couple of homeless drunks sleeping in the doorways and urinating in the doorways. It smells horrible. Im going to go out on a limb and say that with BW3s opening there will be one less doorway of urine. Many more people feel safer walking down the southside of the street than he north. If the city wants to issue work orders why dont they start by issuing a MUST WORK ORDER to fix the lost lane of traffic on Meridian St in front of Jillians. That is a joke. There has been a lane restriction there for months for the little hole in the ground.
  • What is so difficult for you BW3 supporters to understand? This has nothing to do with what may or may not be across the street. Nothing to do with bringing a new business downtown. Nothing to do with our personal taste. IT HAS TO DO WITH THEM NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES. Why should they be exempt from following the rules when everyone else has to follow them?
  • Paris: I think most of us.. well, not BW3 supporters, but rather general opinion dissenters, would agree that they have handled the situation with the Division of Compliance very poorly and there is not an excuse for that. I argued that the rules themselves are flawed, but that provides no excuse for someone to ignore them.

    Jason: I was unaware that the windows up front were fake. I haven't followed the project that closely other than reading a few posts here and seeing it in person a number of times. The restrooms should definitely be in the back of the building. With black, lifeless windows it won't provide much benefit to existing streetscape. In fact, the restroom position has always been a topic concerning this BW3 that I found fairly stupid, but now that I know it renders the windows useless it's fairly upsetting. Hopefully they change that.
  • While I personally don't care for the facade BW3's has planned to install, the issue is not about the aesthetics of the facade. The issue is about a savvy developer with a group of attorneys deciding they don't need to follow the law. The law doesn't just apply to some people and not to others, it is not something simply to ignore when it proves inconvenient or difficult to comply with. Either the city is going to have zoning laws which or enfoced or it should have no laws at all. The developers KNEW what the laws required them to do, and they KNEW they needed a city review of dramatic changes to the building's facade, but they thought the city would simply turn a blind eye to their code violation. It didn't work out that way, and I don't feel sorry for them getting caught. Now, BW3's will have to spend a significant sum of money to get into compliance, and hopefully, their experience will serve as a lesson to developers of future projects to do things the correct way from the beginning.
  • Not sure what is so offensive, it is their trademark color scheme and new design. If they failed to follow rules then they need to correct their actions accordingly, but get real..calling this an eyesore when there are abandoned storefronts across the street is a bit harsh. Plus, take a look at Dunkin....they are such a pretty site?
  • al, you made everyone's point: You can get a retro or distinctive look approved downtown...but you have to get it approved BEFORE you build it, just like Dunkin did.
  • ...but Dunkin didn't take out their storefront and replace it with restrooms and fake windows and a stone base that looks like it belongs on a split-level house in Devonshire.
  • So what we're really overlooking is the power of the people that got this abomination stopped. Had Property Lines not published this, maybe all of you and city planning, would not have been aware about what was occurring here. Props to Prop Lines and it's readers. Maybe we can make the city accountable for it's shortcomings by becoming the watchdogs.
  • Thnudermutt-

    I live in Devonshire :-)
  • So that was your open house I went through last weekend? :-)
  • Just walked by BW3 and Stop Work Order is still on the window, but there are contractors working. They were framing for drywall. I thought that a stop work order meant that all work must stop.

    Is this more nose thumbing?
  • ScottE,

    It might have meant for the facade. As far as I know they have approval to remodel the interior.
  • If it is for the facade, they were a bit late. The work on it is done, which would mean the stop work order was for nothing.
  • Which goes back to the question of why the City only threatened to issue a stop work order when they were only halfway through with the facade work?

    I'm not really sure why people are so thrilled with the City's actions. Maybe when expectations have dropped so low due to years of inaction, any action is worthy of accolades.

    The real judgment should be made after the City either does or doesn't actually require them to significantly change the design to make the interior interact with the exterior as others have here mentioned.
  • I still think it is not a bad looking facade. Here is my real question, doesn't the city have inspectors who might just happen to be driving by one of the most visible sites in the city....and could they not see what was going on well before it was finished?
    Still think it looks a lot better than the crap on the north side of Wash Street. Red's looks great, the rest sucks. I am sure there is some waltzing going on, my guess is what you what you will get.
  • I couldn't care about B-dubs coming Downtown, Scotty's is going to be the main attraction with outdoor seating and bands. It should steal some of North Side Champp's crowd on a Wednesday night!

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