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City to consider connectors for downtown garage

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The developer of a five-story parking garage downtown is seeking city approval to build two upper-level pedestrian connectors to offer easier access to the garage, especially for employees of nearby OneAmerica Financial Partners Inc.

The request from Flaherty & Collins Properties is set to be heard Wednesday by the Metropolitan Development Commission’s plat committee.

One bridge would extend over West New York Street to the south of the garage and would connect directly into the OneAmerica building. The other would extend over Vermont Street to the north and onto steps leading to a surface parking lot, said Jim Crossin, Flaherty’s director of development.

The north connector is not part of the original construction plans for the garage and could be undertaken by eventual garage owner OneAmerica at a later time, Crossin said. The company is interested in building the bridge, however, because it has employees and tenants in its Gibson Building at the far end of the surface lot north of the proposed parking garage, he said.

The city’s Department of Public Works said in planning documents that it has no objections to the bridges as long as they are built at least 17-1/2 feet above ground and do not hinder motorists’ ability to see traffic signals.

The bridge over West New York Street would include two support columns located within the right-of-way of the street. Flaherty is proposing to vacate a 180-square-foot area for the columns. The columns would be south of the sidewalk near the OneAmerica building and near a landscaped area, so pedestrian access to the sidewalk would not be affected, the plans said.

Staff of the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development is recommending approval of the bridges.

The new parking garage would pave the way for an $85 million development set to bring a Marsh store and hundreds of apartments to surface parking lots bounded by Michigan Street, Capitol Avenue, Vermont Street and Indiana Avenue.

As incentive, city leaders agreed to contribute $13 million for the garage, which would be owned by OneAmerica. The garage would be built with similar materials as the OneAmerica Tower.

The Metropolitan Development Commission last week approved plans for the parking garage despite objections from a group of urban policy advocates. They wanted the city to either request a redesign of the garage to provide more first-floor retail, or move the garage to the block’s interior, leaving the frontage along Capitol Avenue and Illinois Street open for better development possibilities.

The 1,000-space structure will provide just 1,500 square feet of street-level retail space, or less than what city guidelines recommend. Instead, Flaherty and garage designer CSO Architects offered to add additional landscaping and faux storefront windows for an “improved urban streetscape.”

Construction of the parking garage could be completed by late fall, Crossin said.
 

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  • wtf?
    Wow. Flaherty and CSO get approval for a development that completely ignores the City's urban design guidelines and now they want to take it a step further by building connectors (which I assume will also be of thoughtless and mundane design) that suck life from the streets? If we cannot count on the City to enforce minimal design standards, can we at least recruit local or national architects and developers that have a basic understanding of urban design?
  • Abusive Addition.....
    This garage mocks all design criteria set forth by the city guidelines while being a city project funded by city residents. It abuses the urban form and environment. There is zero positive about this garage.
  • Agree
    So right 'SE GUY'!
  • Ask the taxpayers?
    Sparks, I don't think taxpayers will be asked to fund this garage. I'm pretty sure the administration has already decided to do it. The MDC, which I believe approves TIF funding, was told at last week's hearing that TIF funding would be used to build the garage.
  • Tubes are too much...
    I agree with the earlier commenters that these connectors go too far. Perhaps, perhaps, I can see it in the case of New York Street... I don't like it, but at least it makes some semblance of sense. But over Vermont Street? Vermont isn't some sort of pedestrian-dangerous superhighway, and there isn't even a building to connect into. The City is paying for this garage... couldn't the City at least get some guts and insist that what it's buying isn't a piece of lard?
  • Egads
    What's so difficult about crossing the street at street level? Most cities are tearing these connectors down, realizing they kill the walkability of their downtowns. Not us! It's more frustrating because most of the people working there don't even live in Marion County, so their income tax goes elsewhere. And then we pay for them to avoid even touching downtown on foot? What is the point of all of this? Why do we continue to spend Marion County tax revenue to enable a completely anti-urban, anti-Marion County lifestyle? It boggles the mind. One America's got us bent over and it sucks.
  • Yawn
    The design of this garage is so blase, that I can only imagine the gerbil tubes connected to it will be equally so. Perhaps city planners should ask the architects to first re-do the design of this garage, and then they can consider adding walkways. Taxpayers had better NOT be asked to fund this monstrosity.
  • Better Yet...
    Why don't we build a monorail from the elevator lobby of the building directly to where these people live (i.e. Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, etc.) so they have to experience the urban environment as little as physically possible on their way to work.
    • "Abusive Addition"
      What is abusive about this parking garage? I understand if you don't agree with city money going toward this re-development, but what do you mean by abusive?
      • More Money
        Scott, In the hearing, Jim mentioned the cost of the structure could be around $15-16 million now.........we might as well spill all the details since the tax payers are covering the cost of this abusive addition.

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