City to BW3: Not so fast

July 30, 2008
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Buffalo
                              Wild Wings IndianapolisCity planners are seeing red over the bright yellow facade at a new Buffalo Wild Wings under construction along Washington Street downtown. Turns out the developers won approval for a sign package with awnings but didn't submit any facade changes, as required by city code. The city has alerted the owner to the problem and plans to issue a stop-work order if necessary. The new look is "very distracting" and "takes away from the entire streetscape," said Jeff York, a senior planner. "They wholly did not get approval for what they're doing there." Franchise owner Pete Watson could not be reached this morning. He owns 12 BW3 locations, including stores in Castleton, Fishers, Broad Ripple and Greenwood.
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  • What is that door doing there too?
    ESPECIALLY with the very attractive Border's store next door.
  • oops...hahahahaha
  • How about some nice, big windows to start?

    What is it with some businesses in Indy always trying to hide from pedestrians with heavy tint, little windows, and small doors?
  • what a mess of a design.
  • This is horrible and so uninviting. There needs to be much more glass similar to Borders next door or their original location on Maryland. Please, the City of Indianapolis don't let this happen. A restaurant is an excellent use for the space but this design (if that's what you call it) is unacceptable. We can do so much better.
  • Sweet! Glad the city put their foot down on this.

    Agreed on the need for bigger windows. Beer/wing lovers do not melt in natural light.
  • This IS the reason for review/approval! This suburban strip mall design is not consistent with hte downtown street scape and design. As I recall the old Weiss Deli was here until closing in the mid 80's it had huge open windows - what BW-3 should have or flee for the suburbs where such medocrity is acceptable...
  • Definitely agree with everyone here. They should know better than to change the facade of the building without getting a permit. The city originally stopped the new Cartridge World from taking off the purple siding along the top of the old panda express building. Then they realized that the steel purple siding was awful and let them continue.
  • In the immortal words of Chuck D and Flava Flave: Shut 'em down, shut 'em shut 'em down!
  • I don't like it ... hopefully something gets worked out. Great location for the place, though
  • Windows, windows, and more windows.
  • This looks horrible! Good thing that the city stepped in, there needs to be big windows looking out over the street!
  • Especially at THIS location. Basically Meridian and Washington street, the heart of the city! You would think they would have more common sense.
  • Wow. The owner clearly hired an architect who is unfamiliar with big urban buildings (or who failed her/his duty as an architect to dissuade the owner from doing something so offensive). The only thing that seems to matter in this version is what the inside might look like. This is typical bottom-line thinking vs. long-term thinking, which is another way of saying that this “disposable” design is infecting “permanent” architecture.

    I think the next architect should consider recreating the original storefront design, preferably by using historic photos of the building that can be found at the IHPC offices and/or the Indiana Historical Society photo archives. If none exist, the vertical lines and/or columns above the entablature can be mirrored, in large part, below. My guess is that it is a relatively easy (and cheap) storefront to re-establish after they demo this fake stucco. Then the owner might realize the hidden profits associated with operating a business out of a classy building that exudes character… even if it is just a wings joint.

    Regarding the Regional Center review and appeals process, the smart money is on Jeff York.
  • Funny. I just walked by there this morning and was thinking how hideous and out of place it was. The stone work along the bottom, which you really can't see in the picture, makes it even worse. Hooray.
  • Who was the developer?
  • Jaco -- I just drove past earlier and saw that faux-stone crap. Ye olde Washington St. storefront. Horrible!
  • If you think BW3 looks bad, turn around and look at what is accross the street, that's what is hideous. Or maybe some people might want to remember what that store front looked like since mid 1980's. If the city is so concerned about the Washington and Meridian Street area they might want to address the buildings on the north side of Washington east of Meridian. Why do some people have to complain about everything, lets give some people credit for trying to bring something new into the downtown area. I am tired of looking at the same old boring buildings (Conrad). If you don't like the looks too bad, don't look, get over it.
  • I have to say this will look WAY more aesthetically appealing than the tired, vacant space nobody seemed to be bitching about before Pete Watson took the opportunity to revive. Shame on our lack of vision and diversity to be so adverse to color...anyone ever been to NYC or ever stepped out of Indy for that matter?? What we are looking at is not the finished product, mind you. But if this facade is worse to you than dilapidated space, I hope you don't plan to join any committee with the City.
  • At least someone is trying to clean up the city... take a look across the street of Washington and that is whats horrible. Atleast this is better than a new stadium for the colts coming out of our pockets thats not needed...
  • What is hideous are the buildings across the street, maybe the City should worry more about those instead of a company that is trying to bring some life into the City. I am tired of looking at the same old boring buildings (Conrad). Why do some people have to complain about everything, if you don't like it too bad, get over it, don't look at it. Come on people let's worry about the important issues in this City, let's give the cops and firefighter some raises and not the Colts owners. Let's back the folks that try to keep us safe and not the ones that just take our money.
  • My favorite part is the black and white sock-striped border right next to the Borders. What on EARTH was the architect/designer/schmuck thinking??? Anyone have a clue who proposed this?
    The developer should be shot for thinking that he could get away with this. I bet all he can see right now is the escalating $$$$.

    Wouldn't surprise me if he's able to get something similar through the city planners...
  • Shame on our lack of vision and diversity to be so adverse to color...

    That's not color. It's more like someone vomitted all over the facade, then put a big, bright light on it so it would stick out like a sore thumb.
    Simply USING the building is not enough to justify doing whatever you want to it. We have city planners for a reason; there is a vision that we're hoping to create in this city. An ugly, yellow building with no storefront is certainly not part of that vision. Take a look at Border's next door; the building is elegant and aesthetically pleasing.
    If you want cliche', vanilla building design, go out to the north side or Carmel. Castleton and the Carmel Arts District are ripe with this kind of crap.

    Bravo, City Planners.
  • Come on people let’s worry about the important issues in this City, let’s give the cops and firefighter some raises and not the Colts owners. Let’s back the folks that try to keep us safe and not the ones that just take our money.

    If you can convince the people of Indianapolis that adaquate police and firefighters are more important than football and the Super Bowl, I'll be right there with you. Until then, expect to see new football stadiums in this city each 20 years for as long as we're willing to pander to the Colts organization.

    I agree that there are more important things than BW3, but it's not like it's costing the tax payers anything to call them out for not approving a re-design. That bill will go entirely to the owner/developer.
  • That design (?) reminds me of a bird house I did 24 years ago. No, I take that back; that insults my birds house too much.

    MDB is correct and they should try to recreate the original storefront. It is easy and they won't be seen as bad neighbors.
  • I love that the city can care about this, when there are a good number of run down buildings that look far worse than this. As well as the fact Indy now has a horrible smell around the City. Glad to see they are worried about a paint job...I'd rather have a yellow bottom portion of a building than a run down building.
  • This seems to have less windows than the average suburban locations.
    This really does insult the whole street which is typically made up of large glass storefronts.
    The structure this is being placed in also I believe had a large storefront originally though I could be wrong.
    This needs to be redone. This is downtown Indianapolis, not Fishers.
    If anything we are doing them a favor.
  • Pink rotating sign at Dunkin Donuts Penn and Washington Streets was approved by the city. What planning?
  • What once was: http://images.indianahistory.org/u?/dc012,3303

    The simple fact is they created something hideous without approval. I don't want my city to be a place where I'm constantly having to just not look at it. I for one am thanking Jeff York and the City for their review!

    BW3 shouldn't have thrown good money after bad; if you're going to fix the place up, do it right! Especially on one of Indy's great examples of Art Deco architecture in a prominent downtown location.

    BTW, is it just me or do JJT, Nick, BJY, and Chance Buckman all sound like the same person? Interesting that they all posted within 20 minutes of each other. Hmmmm...
  • They're clearly all the same person. Don't feed the troll.

    That Woolworth storefront looks amazing Wheat1.
  • That storefront is very uncharacteristic for Buffalo Wild Wings. They typically employ lots of windows with awnings. I dont know why they would not want to use windows, it is much more inviting. Surely they would not just leave that yellow wall like it is.

    Here is a simplistic approach in an urban setting
    http://www.picsbydave.us/pib03/070815-0065.jpg

    A modern storefront
    http://www.peoriarestaurants.com/images/rest_pics/buffalo_wild_wings.jpg
  • You guys have already said it...it looks terrible...very poorly done. It doesn't look like any architect could have worked on that. I hope we see some better changes, but it will probably be just the color...sadly.
  • Good find Wheat1.

    It's hard to believe at one time people actually thought they were improving buildings downtown by replacing the original, beautiful storefront windows with huge slabs of tacky granite and terrible small windows.

    This isn't the first time the ground floor of this building has been marred.
  • Working downtown on the circle, I walk past this construction project every day and have 2 comments.

    1. This is not finished...people are commenting on the windows and the doors...which have yet to be replaced / modified. please wait to criticize until its complete.

    2. My guess is that most people don't remember what this building looked like before. The graffiti, broken windows and dirt was an eye sore that provided nothing to downtown. BW3s is both a huge improvement aesthetically but also a huge draw for race and sports fans alike. ITS GREAT TO HAVE BW3s back!
  • This portion of Washington St. has been neglected for years. The buildings on the northside are starting to be renovated but there still appears to be many eyesores. This will only contribute to that. The building's architecture is very unique. The storefront needs to compliment this. Is this a historic district? The large parking lot to the east needs to be developed. Its too large of a vacant lot to be in the heart of the city. Anybody know of any proposed plans for that atra? This portion of Washington St. has so much potential. The City really needs to focus on this area especially before the Super Bowl.
  • What it used to look like is irrelevant. What the neighboring properties look like is irrelevant.

    The LAW requires THIS owner to get approval of facade changes on THIS building. PERIOD.
  • 'nuff said, thundermutt.
  • Well said, Thundermutt. I don't get why people always try to divert these conversations off onto some irrelevant comparison. This isn't about the neighboring buildings, and it isn't about what this building used to look like.
  • Here Here! Thundermutt. No one wins when developers subvert the rules. It costs more initially to play by the rules, but saves our community in the long run. There are some obligations that are part of good development including maintaining real estate properly, and not allowing it to sit vacant and unkempt like the properties across the street. What is the old saying, Two wrongs do not make a right.

    On another note, my experience with BW3 is that less natural light would be good, so you cannot see the dirt and grease.
  • Oh brother.

    If those things are irrelevant, thundermutt, then what is the purpose of said law? Why would the law require a developer to get approval of an aesthetic change?

    Because what the building used to look like, and what neighboring properties look like, are both completely relevant. Those are the primary contexts in which that law functions.

    Jeff York, the senior planner Cory quoted, emphasizes that context in his comment:

    The new look is 'very distracting' and 'takes away from the entire streetscape...' ”

    You have to get approval, among other things, because:

    A. The city wants to make sure the new facade fits in with its surroundings
    B. A shotgun developer may ruin a perfectly usable, sometimes historic facade in the name of modernization or cost-savings.

    If those reasons are removed, that kind of law doesn't have many legs to stand on, beyond public safety and decency standards.
  • heh, heh...ok, they should have gotten the approval for the facade changes...PERIOD.

    BUT...such doom and gloom here...horrible, uninviting, shut 'em down, schmuck(!?), hideous, yadayada......chill out, relax and eat some hot wings dudes (And dudettes).

    While you're doing that (Or drinking a nice cold beer), don't miss the giant TV monitors piping in your favorite sports in HD...(sans window glare)...you most assuredly will not complain about the small windows then.

    Approval should have been requested. Different isn't always bad. Old is...well, old, It isn't the 1930's anymore...you might just have to move on.
  • I love how a BW 3's discussion turns into people whining about Lucas Oil Stadium. Last I checked, that stadium isn't going anywhere.
  • wingman:

    There's a difference between new and tacky. This doesn't fit the surrounding developments, and it should feel like the same neighborhood.

    There's a difference between a downtown BW3's and a strip mall BW3's. People live downtown to avoid that kind of stuff, so it makes sense that the city is fighting the design.
  • Looks like they took design queues from a Taxi Cab. Do you really think they hired an Architect or designer? OOOOR did they have Color blind Monkeys pick this out.
  • wingman, Not sure if you ever been downtown or not. But that Building doesn’t get a lot of SUN light streaming in the front Window. IE North facing,IN a Canyon of buildings. So. The ONLY design they needed here. Was replacing the historic storefront and hanging a sign. BAM, That’s all. And if needed, some film on the windows and a couple of Logo's painted on the Glass.
  • Ablerock, I was mainly aiming my comments at those deflecting onto nearby buildings.

    I understand the reasons for and the reasoning behind the Urban Design Guidelines. If we'd had them eight years ago, we wouldn't have Central Library. Preventing another piece of work like that is well worth it.

    The BW3 project wasn't stopped because it doesn't look good...it was stopped because the developer broke the law. Discussion of how bad it looks is premature because it's not done.

    Since it also doesn't look good, it's unlikely to continue to completion. The Guidelines and the Regional Center Ordinance give Jeff York and his boss quite a bit of latitude in their administrative approvals, but based upon my experience with those two gentlemen I am confident that they are unlikely to use their discretion to allow the Mr. Bumblebee facade.

    I agree with Bob: not much sunlight streams into any window in Indianapolis that faces north. And no sunlight streams into ANY window after dark, when most of BW3's business is done.
  • I'm surprised we haven't heard the Why is Indianapolis anti-business? response. Or Think about the children? Won't somebody PLEASE think about the children?.
  • Why is the City indicating that they will issue a stop work order, IF NECESSARY? Isn't it standard procedure to issue a stop work order when work is being done without obtaining permits and approvals? Why were they allowed to keep installing the stone pieces on the facade yesterday? It seems the more work they get done, the more likely they'll get approval to keep it the way they want.
  • Not seeing any stop work happening - just walked by it at lunchtime and they are hanging the awnings off the front of the building...I suppose they could always go back and re-paint over the yellow at some point, but it hasn't happened yet...
  • I drove by this weekend and saw the stone work.......I'm surprised they didn't add an awning or anything.....it looks very open and.....yellow
  • It's not the city's building so why not let potential customers decide if they like it? I think it is ugly and not inviting, so I'm likely not to think about going there.

    Oh, I forgot, we are a socialist nation now. The government owns everything and you have to have permission to do anything. It's not about health and safety anymore. It's about being the design police and controlling others. Thank goodness we have an elite who know architecture better than us commoners.
  • Oh Downtowner for heaven's sake stop sounding like a whiny child.

    You think it's ugly - that's what we elite think too. The personality of a city goes beyond individual buildings to how the entire street operates. It's the business of every resident whether 1. LAWS ARE FOLLOWED and 2. bad projects are built.

    You're right: after 25 years in the field, I DO know more about design than you do. Whatever your area of specialty is, you know more about it than I do, so why not try to go do some good in that area, and when you make your educated opinion known I'll listen to it?

    God Indy residents are such a bunch of status quo sheep. I'm so ready to move out of this stupid city. Between the arts funding, inability to have any kind of mass transit, and this ignorant acceptance of publicly built crap (that ridiculous stadium being high on the list) Indy is not a city that is going anywhere in the next 25 years but down the toilet.
  • Fed Up:
    Then please leave. We'll be fine without you.
  • I am familiar with several other BWW projects. The owners are straight up and I am confident there must have been some sort of communication breakdown between them and the city. I'm sure they are working to resolve to the city and neighborhoods liking as we speak. We all know that developers and brokers sometimes lack credibility with projects. This upstanding local busnessman is bringing a much needed replacement to the old and poorly operated Downtown B-Dubs. It will all get worked out. I've seen the new BWW prototypes in Texas and Oklahoma, they blow the old B-Dub's away.
    If your a wings and sports freak, this is the place to be. When will they open? I can't wait!
  • Am I the only one who thinks that this really isn't a big deal? Signage and logos can add a lot to a built environment, if done correctly. Downtown is the only place in Indy where signage/logos should be allowed in this context, not out in some strip center where it would be barely noticable. Think of many of the largest cities; their downtowns all have company logos/signage etc and they help to add to a city's identity and diversity. I understand the issue of competing signs and sign blight, but is this any worse than Harry & Izzy's throwing a huge sign and their logo at Georgia Street? What about Conseco Fieldhouse? I don't see people throwing a fit over the Pacers schedule being painted on a building every year or all of teh NBA and Pacer signage on the building? How about Clark's Shoe's use of the space above Maryland Street in Circle Centre? I could go on and on...
  • I almost missed what everyone was talking about, as my attention was diverted to the new Clown Building across the street.

    C’mon, how come noone is talking about this horrific, polka-dotted abortion that is across the street? I kept waiting for a Volkswagen to pull up, and have 50 clowns pour out, while honking bicycle horns.

    I am not an architect, but I know ugly. That said, I welcome Dunkin Donuts back to Indy. You have been gone way too long.

    I didn’t think that the Buffalo place looked that bad. I guess the good news is that we are finally filling in store fronts that have been closed for years. I agree that downtown needs to maintain a level of standard, but by reading the comments here, there obviously is an element in our city that would prefer to sip their whine, and eat their cheese, and do all that they can to prevent new businesses from coming, all the while showing their contempt for the peasants that must share the same streets as them.

    Get off your high horses.
  • downtown
    does anyone remember Weiss Deli? or Troy's Resturant? or St. Moritz or Gay Dans?


    Lots of happy memories - downtown has really changed

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  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

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