Councilor launches opposition to Georgia Street renaming

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A City-County councilor has joined the growing opposition to the city’s controversial push to rename Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis.

Democrat Angela Mansfield submitted a resolution that could be heard at the Oct. 3 City-County Council meeting. It urges Mayor Greg Ballard and the Metropolitan Development Commission to “cease and desist from all efforts to rename Georgia Street.”

City and community leaders began considering the name change for the 190-year-old street earlier this year after construction crews began a massive $12 million streetscape overhaul of the three-block stretch. The idea, they said, was to create a fresh identity for the street in time for the city’s hosting of the 2012 Super Bowl on Feb. 5. The project is designed to create a major public gathering place between the Indiana Convention Center and Conseco Fieldhouse.

But opposition to a name change is mounting, evidenced by Mansfield’s resolution and a Facebook page created by Joan Hostetler to make a case against the rebranding.

“I’m not big on changing street names,” Mansfield said Wednesday morning, “and even more so on this one because it’s a historic name.”

The street is listed on the 1821 Alexander Ralston “Plat of the Town of Indianapolis” and it is home to the city’s oldest hotel, the Omni Severin (98 years) and its oldest Catholic church, St. John the Evangelist (140 years).

Influential urban design blogger Aaron Renn also has voiced his concerns about a change.

“Oddly, the backers of this don’t actually have a name in mind,” he wrote. “They just want to chuck the existing one and are doing a design by committee on a new name. The one suggestion I’ve seen floated publicly, Hospitality Way, is utterly cringe-worthy.”

Ballard’s spokesman Marc Lotter said Wednesday morning that the mayor is encouraged by the debate that’s occurring and he stressed that no final decision has been made.

“Any time you talk about change, in any respect, you’re always going to stir passions on both sides,” Lotter said.

Some city officials and Indianapolis Downtown Inc. are leading the effort to rebrand the street. Residents could submit their suggestions in an online survey that ended Sept. 13.

The Metropolitan Development Commission is set to consider the change Oct. 19. Its recommendation would be forwarded to Mayor Greg Ballard, who has final say on a change.

Mansfield, though, is hoping Council approval of her resolution might be enough to sway city officials to keep the Georgia Street name.

“Given the huge impact these businesses have suffered (during construction), and then to change the address on them, it’s just pouring salt into the wound,” Mansfield said.

The project, funded primarily with federal stimulus dollars, has closed Georgia Street to traffic, causing several bars and restaurants along the stretch to lose business.

It’s scheduled for completion in October, three months before Indianapolis is scheduled to host the Super Bowl.

The stretch from Capitol Avenue to Pennsylvania Street will feature a covered pedestrian mall in the median, sandwiched on both sides by a lane of traffic and a wide sidewalk.

Lotter said city officials are considering a permanent name change rather than a temporary one for just the Super Bowl because the project is expected to have a lasting impact on the city long after the game. The city frequently renames downtown streets for a few days at a time during big events.

“This location is going to be a signature place, not just for the Super Bowl and the Big Ten football championships, but for conventions and for events at Conseco Fieldhouse,” he said. “It’s not just a one-time feature.”



  • homeowner's association
    Dear Mayor, A tremendous amount of planning, and thought went into the naming of our streets. Please Do Not change the name of any of our streets. They were given their names for historical reasons . You should know this Mr. Mayor Greg. thank you, Tom Moran
  • One suggestion, for everyone.
    I'd support the addition of signage denoting the area as "The Promenade" or "The Promenade at Georgia Street" as long the Georgia Street name, and the standard street signage and historic district signage, was left intact. That way, the IDI/MDC people would have something to play with and occupy their time, and the historic preservation people could finally relax.
  • A political decision, obviously.
    From the beginning, this whole project has reeked of pimping out a grandmother to an out of town John for a one night stand. Nothing here is surprising, knowing Indy politics.
  • What have we done?
    Brook, this controversy is not being created by those who want to keep the name Georgia Street--it's being created by those who want to change it! It is not "just a few" who are in opposition--the facebook page to keep Georgia Street has nearly 1,000 "likes" in its very short existence.

    Call people names if you want, I'm sorry you don't have more appreciation for this history of your city and for those who have gone before to make it great. Do you know anything about Alexander Ralston or his mentor, Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who designed our nation's capital and was the landscape architect for Versailles, France?

    You claim no one has done anything positive to capture or promote this history. You must not be familiar with the work of Indiana Landmarks, the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, and all the passionate individuals who give of themselves to promote this town's history. We "traditionalists" are responsible for this town still having a Lockerbie Square, Old Northside, developments like Fall Creek Place, even Circle Center...you and I must have different definitions of "progress."

    What exactly is the core "need" you speak of. Are you saying that Michigan Avenue in Chicago can't be successful because it's named for a different state? Or that there has to be some catchy name to make it successful? If that's the case, please explain to us the success of 3rd Street in Santa Monica or 6th Street in Austin.

    Some ideas scream for criticism. And this is one of them, for good reason.
  • Umm.. no.
    No Brook, this entire controversy was created by a few who decided to change something that doesn't need changing.

    The overwhelming majority have responded and requested that the name be left alone. Changing a 200 year old name for no good reason is not "progress"

    I and others and suggested a good compromise: "Georgia Street Promenade" It will do nicely.

    If we're going to change Georgia street because it isn't in Georgia... Perhaps we should change Massachussets Avenue as well? Mass Ave isn't in Massachussets and that has been so confusing for so many people right?
  • street name
    so much of this controversy is being created, thrashed and elevated by just a few traditionalists. This is just the twisting and thrashing of a few who have weighed in on several different outlets so it looks like more than it is. For all of you doing this, you are the few who understand the context of the street naming grid. I find it very interesting that you care so much about this but have offered nothing nor done anything positive to capture and promote this history. You have simply done what you typically do. You have rallied and tried to block any sort of progress.

    for those of you suggesting the Georgia Place, promenande or any other modified are not addressing the core need. Georgia is the touchy reference not the modifier.

    Everyone just needs to take a deep breath and be open to the possibilties.

    While you are at it, make sure you would welcome this same oversight, input and opinion in your efforts.

    Point being - it is very easy to criticize.
    • I agree with Thundernutt
      Sell the naming rights. "IceMiller Way" or "WellPoint Court" would have a nice welcoming ring. Maybe we could compromise and call it "The Promenade at Georgia Street Presented By Angie's List." It would tie in with the decision to replace unsightly art at the airport with helpful information for travellers about the goods and services available in our city, and consistent branding is important. Attach the signs with magnets instead of bolts to save time when the Official Naming Partner goes out of business, merges, or simply decides not to renew.
    • Another Vote
      Another vote for Georgia Street Promenade. Also, there is a method to the madness that is our downtown street names - most all are state names. Thus, let's keep it that way and keep it Georgia.
    • Where's the beef?
      It's a three block street that dead ends at the Convention Center and Pacers' Fieldhouse (no more corporate names - please - they rob the community of it's identity). I have a novel idea, base the name change on something that's unique to our City! Why promote a State's name that has nothing to do with our City? Major Taylor Place, Vonnegut Way or Victory Lane would be a lot better than the current street name.
    • @Jim...Get a grip
      This is not Chicago or Vegas this is India NO Place which gets 2nd rate conventions.
    • Sign the Petition
      Please sign the petition (free and no registration): http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keepgeorgiast/

      Join the Keep Georgia Street Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-the-historic-name-Georgia-Street-Indianapolis/283498898332005?sk=wall

      Send Mayor Ballard a message:http://www.indy.gov/eGov/Mayor/getintouch/Pages/ContactUs.aspx

    • Time travel...
      From a researcher's perspective, what if this venue idea fizzles-out in 20 or 30 years or so? (other grand Indianapolis ideas have...Wonderland, Union Station Festival Marketplace, The Bazaar, and even Pan Am Plaza?) Street names give us continuity as society changes through the decades.

      Name the venue, but leave our street names alone.
    • Perfect Compromise
      Georgia Street Promenade or The Promenade on Georgia is the perfect compromise. It honors the past and embraces the future.

      I imagine decorative wrought iron street signs similar to what you'd see on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. What a nice finishing touch to a great project that would be.

      I can imagine conventioneers saying "We're having our party on the Promenade".. It just sounds cozy
    • Monument Circle
      Justin, maybe they call it "The Circle" instead of "Monument Circle" because the Monument wasn't always there.
      • Ballard
        DWT, apparently you haven't notice all of Ballard's tax and fee increases (over 140) and his constantly giving away our tax dollars to developers and insiders. Ballard is a bigger tax and spending liberal than any Democrat.
      • Hold Onto the History
        I used to think, "what's the big deal" on this idea of renaming the street. However, given the history of the street and it's connection to historical landmarks in our city that were here long before the NFL. I think we should keep the name "Georgia St." and we can refer to it with embellishments on the name like "The Promenade on Georgia", etc.
      • Look at last name change committee was responsible for...
        Is this the same renaming committee changed the North of South (NoSo) to CityWay. Maybe they can botch this one equally bad.
      • Georgia Street
        are you going to change all the maps so that people can find their way around indy? if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
      • Georgia Street Promenade = perfect!
        The Circle and The Promenade: Cool places in a cool city!

        The organizations were right with wanting to give this new area a special name to highlight it, just got ahead of themselves with the whole new name idea, throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

        Georgia Street Promenade or The Promenade on Georgia Street are both great points of reference and a middle ground for all.
      • Rename=Bad
        Interesting that the 106 review has been mentioned. The powers that be have determined that the renaming does not fall under the jurisdiction of the 106 review (which is completely wrong). If it were to be renamed, it would not be part of any sort of MOA dealing with the work....they can just rename it without any sort of ramification.
      • Georgia Street
        If the name "has" to be changed, why not something like "Georgia Street Festival Place?"
      • Fed funds
        Hum, seems like since Fed $$$ are involved then the historic issue could be resolved with Section 106 NEPA review/compliance.
        • Bad Idea
          Should keep it as Georgia St. No reason to change the name. Especially to "Hospitality Way" - that is cringe-worthy!

          @Jim, don't forget who raised our city taxes by .65% and then cost himself an election (HINT: his name rhymes with Schmeterson). We save nothing financially by dumping Ballard.
        • Why change the name.
          Why are they talking about changing the name of an old, established street name when they don't even have a new name in mind? If they wanted to honor a local hero or celebrity, it might make sense. But it sounds like they are taking a "we'll think of a name later" approach. What would guarantee that the new name would be better?
        • Renaming
          Why not just rename it for the 2 weeks before the Super Bowl, like "Super Bowl Plaza", then change it back to Georgia Street after it is over? I like the name!
        • BALLARD is WRONG
          Wouldn't it be like Ballard a GOP who thinks out of one side of his mouth talks about controlling costs and holding down expenses, while on the other side wants the city to spend more money to rename a street, and for the businesses to pay to have the stationary, listings, etc, change. But good ole Ballard will be the first to say the new expenses to the people were not tax hikes. BUT THEY STILL COST MONEY at at time when schools, public service, all need every dime they can get. I've got a great idea, dump Ballard and save the city millions of dollars he gives away in kickbacks and special interest favors.
        • @darth
          Darth, Councilmen Mansfield is doing this because their is obvious public opposition to the renaming. This is why we hire councilmen. They are our voice in local government. I applaud her for doing what the voters have asked for, calling for a stop on the renaming.
        • Moochie Read My Mind
          Hey, Moochie! Georgia Street Promenade is the exact name I submitted to the renaming contest! It solves the issue for current residents and gives the area a new panache!!!
        • I agree Bob
          I agree Bob, but what's wrong with Georgia st.? It's a very attractive name, and everyone knows where it is. There just isn't much of a reason to change it.

          I like "Georgia Street Promenade" but how about "The Promenade on Georgia Street?"
        • AN Opportunity not a Problem
          Name sre for identification. Identification is a vehicle to present something to the public that defines or enlightens those that come in contact with it. Georgia Street maybe in the spotlight now but nearly two generations ago few citizens knew its name unless you worked on it or near it. My point is the street's identifier meant very little other than to distinguish it from other streets.

          Today, Georgia Street is becoming a major thoroughfare in our city. Hundreds of thousands of citizens and visitors will see and use it every year. By putting a new moniker on the street, we will be idenifying more than just a street. We will be saying " Welcome to a city that thought it could and did." It's success wer're identifying--not a street.
          • Rebrand? This isn't junk food.
            Remember all of the backlash to changing Coke? New Coke or Coke Classic? Perhaps they should rename it Ballard's Boo-boo. Leave the city's history intact and not for sale.
            (BTW ... bike paths are an improvement I support)
          • Thanks
            Thank you, Councilor Mansfield!
          • Ball drop
            I love the idea of an annual New Years Eve ball drop on "The Promenade" in front of the Convention Center. Maybe with fireworks launched from the roof of the Convention Center?

            A new tradition like that would really solidify The Promenade as a landmark!
          • Georgia St
            A change will not make a difference to visitors; leave it Georgia Street.
          • I Agree
            I agree with Angela Mansfield! First, why would we want to confuse incoming spectators from all over the world on a changed street name? Most of all, why are we wasting taxpayers time and money changing a street name? If it isn't broken then don't change it!
          • Waste of time
            Why does this even matter. With all the problems in the city / state / country, why would the City-County Councilwomen even worth her time with the such a resulution. Was her morther's name Georgia?
          • I agree with Mooch
            Moochie has the right idea. Don't change the name from Georgia street to something else, just rebrand that section to the "Georgia Street Promenade".

            Locals usually call Monument Circle "The Circle". People would very quickly start calling "The Georgia Street Promenade" "The Promenade"

            It'd be cool to have both "The Circle" and "The Promenade" as landmark event areas! Maybe we could have a New Years Eve ball drop on "The Promenade" every year? And if people ask where "The Promenade" is... why it's on Georgia street of course!
          • Don't change the name
            Why could it not be called The Georgia St. Promenade? That was the name is not changed, but it will have an additional designation which covers a new description of the street.
          • Nickname is Fine
            The Magnificent Mile in Chicago is still Michigan Ave. You don't have to rename the street to just highlight it.
          • I like
            I was thinking the same thing. Although one point in the article about restuarants/bars losing bussiness during construction does not consider how much new bussiness those places will receive in the future. Being on the Promenade will be a gigantic advantage as those bussinesses will be the first place visitors will see.
          • Interesting takes.....
            The name change will not make the street more universally known, in fact it will be the opposite. New visitors will not know Georgia from something stupid and residents will continue to call it Georgia. No matter the name of the street, much will be required in advertising and programming to make it well known. This can be done as Georgia Street.

            Also, I don't think this has stirred passion on both sides. People hate it. Enough with this waste of time. You are making a great project into a joke!
          • Georgia Street Renaming
            I hope Mansfield is successful. Renaming Georgia Street is silly and a waste of time and money.
          • Simple Solution
            A very simple solution to this manufactured "problem". Call that section of Georgia street the "Georgia Street Promenade". That name acknowledges that that 3 block section is unique and still respects the history of the area.
            • Sell naming rights
              Auction the naming rights. Wellpoint Way, Simon Street, Lilly Lane, Rolls Royce Place, Citizens Walk, Medco Mile, Celadon Trace, McDonald's Drive...none of those would be as bad as Peyton Place or Hospitality Way.

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            1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

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