Cultural Trail wins national kudos

March 5, 2008
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Cultural Trail A couple of topics to discuss:


More praise for Trail
In its March newsletter, New York-based Project for Public Spaces named Indianapolis one of five "Great Cities" thanks to the Cultural Trail project. The other cities are Melbourne, Zurich, Bogota and Hong Kong. The article is here. Hat tip to thundermutt, a blog regular.


Simon CEO says park improved
Simon Property Group CEO David Simon had some interesting remarks at the IU Business Conference this morning. He said the company increasingly views its 379 malls, which boast 2.8 billion visits per year, as marketing vehicles. Simon also addressed complaints about how the company built its new headquarters on what had been a park. He said he never saw anyone enjoying the park before the new building, but now it's full of people. "I think we beautified it," he said.


The latest from Broad Ripple
A deal is in the works that could bring a new use to a prime Broad Ripple parcel on Guilford Avenue. The property between Spin nightclub and Qdoba now is home to Quality Leasing Inc., which is owned by car dealer Tom Wood. If Quality Leasing can find a new home, the owners might sell the building and adjacent parking lot. Retail/commercial broker Bob Enoch has a client who has offered to buy the property. He would not name his client, but said it isn't another restaurant/bar. Brothers Bar & Grill plans to open across the street.


And finally, don't miss ...
A couple of recent stories in the print IBJ might be of interest to Property Lines readers: We look at whether real estate investment trusts are ready for a comeback; and we talk with the city's new economic development director, Nick Weber. Check out what he says about the Market Square Arena site.

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  • The interview with Weber certainly seems positive but vague. I'll grasp on any nugget of hope for the current and future development of downtown.
  • Any news on the Merril Street project? I saw on channel 16 today that one of the zoning variances was defeated, and the other was continued.
  • I'm pretty sure no one still uses the park next to the Simon building, those are just simon employees on smoke break.

    No one also seem to use Pan Am Plaza.
  • Chris: The request to vacate an alley was denied and the skyplane variance was deadlocked. The project likely is in trouble.
  • I wouldn't be suprised if it doesn't make it. I don't think its the greatest project either. I think its way out of scale with the historic homes next to it.
  • Didn't Ballard say that incentives weren't going to be part of his Econ. Dev. M.O. ? Didn't he say that his admin wouldn't be Business as usual? Yet he keeps bringing in veterans of Goldsmith, Newman, and other Republican's administrations?

    Nick sure doesn't sound like he's got much of a policy other than everything's on the table. :lol:

    Oh well, I wish them the best, but don't expect much. Careful what you wish for people, you just might get it.
  • I have a question. If we don't build some project out of scale how do we except any sort of densification? The developers have to use the sites that are most economically viable, so what if around the site is some old homes? They own the property, and they own the building they will eventually build. In most areas of the country, out of scale projects that don't relate to the neighborhood tend to draw the density to them, resulting in a wider swath of urbanization. What is wrong with that? Those are old homes(Don't call them historic, what significant event happened in those homes? Were they built with great fanfare to commemorate some great event? If your answer is nothing and no then they are OLD not HISTORIC. the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is historic) that are built near the edge of a growing downtown.

    Is that sad? Maybe, to some people who are constantly lamenting the loss of every building that was built more than 50 years ago. When I was a young teenager, my mom worked as a waitress downtown after I got home from school. I went with her and walked downtown all night long. I know the buildings down there, I have a lot of memories in a lot of them. But if one has to go for making a better city, then so be it. let's keep the old building stock that makes sense, and the ones that don't, and people voluntarily agree to develop them in new ways, let's get it done.

    I want this city to be great, and the attitude shown above continues to hold it back due to a small vocal minority of busybodies.
  • Da Hooey, I think the Weber interview boils down to I dunno, give us time.

    If Ballard had brought in a veteran of economic development activity under Goldsmith, we wouldn't be on hold. Instead he brought in a PR guy.

    It doesn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies. It takes time to develop a strategy and to figure out how to implement it.
  • Gee, Cory, maybe I have a future in PR. It could lead to a job in economic development. :-)
  • I enjoyed the park Simon took over before they destroyed it. It's main claim to fame was the view to the Statehouse. I've never set foot over there since.
  • The Merrill Tower people were denied the vacation of Russell Street, so they're going to have to go back to the drawing board. That's actually a good thing, as the horrendous design with which they were intending to plow forward through zoning and permitting (essentially, a 16-story vending machine plopped down on top of an 8-story parking garage) will now have to be completely re-tooled. If nothing else, the MDC's denial of the vacation tells Prince-Alexander that they'll have to come back with a design that better heeds the city's requested modifications... that they're not simply going to be rubber-stamped.
  • Can someone please explain to me how the Simon Tower destroyed the park? The Simon building footprint is maybe 100'x300' on the corner of the lot. The fountain is still there. The greenspace is still there. The walkways are still there.

    This is downtown. If you want greenspace, head over to Military Park and you will find no one using that park either.
  • T-mutt.

    If this kid is 33, and he worked under Goldsmith, that makes him 25 (8 years ago) at the oldest. Maybe he wrote press releases in the waning lame duck days of Steve's glory years as Mayor?

    That's what scares me: This kid's clearly not a veteran of anything except for writing checks at fundraisers and writing vague pr-ish press releases.

    Ballard: Not ready for prime time.
  • well Say Anything, it' kind of like taking university park and Giving it to a BILLION dollar company along with 25 million in your ‘TAX’ dollars and saying Here, you can building on a 1/4 of it. There still walks left and a fountain and some trees and some plants. The park was used. I used it, convention goers used it. People staying in the westin used it. A S***T load of people used it. David Simon’s office must have been facing east. And what is he going to say. Yes we desecrated a park, Mybad. Get over it. Little people I A SIMON, I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT IN THIS CITY. Anyway. What Burns me and some other people is there where 10-20 lots in the downtown area that the Simons could have used. Empty LOTS!!!! They could have used the parking lot across from Rockbottom. Or one of the parking lots around the War memorial Mall. How about one if the 5 blocks AUL using for a sea of parking. Areas that could have use more foot traffic in them. BUT NO, SIMON WITH THERE ‘I AM GOD' complex put it right down on top of a park. Doesn’t mater what kind of park. It’s a park. And the other sites did not come with 25 million of your tax dollar. Ask the Simons why your tax went up. The City might as well give away the other halve to a Hotel or office tower. Because the park now is just butchered. And mostly used by the Simon cancer club. And the fountain is just PATHETIC.

    SIMON IS NOT YOUR FRIEND; SIMON IS NOT A FRIEND TO THIS CITY OR ANY OTHER CITY. SIMON IS NOT A GOOD COMPANY, SIMON IS A BILLION DOLLAR MONSTER, THEY WILL RAPE AND DESECRATE ANYTHING THEY GET THERE HANDS ON.
  • I see plenty of people using Pan Am especially on the weekends and the park just South of the simon building. Patachou uses it for their outdoor seating and the fountain is pleasant to sit at. I'm really glad the simon building exists there. I don't really care about the company, but I think it's a decent building.
  • I was shocked to learn that many of the people living around the proposed Merrill Tower didn't think they lived downtown. We seem to have a really rigid view of downtown in Indy. It's only within the mile square. That's just not true anymore. I will submit that anything within the freeway system and the river is downtown. Then again, there's a lot of potential development north of 65 on Meridian, so that may not be true either. The plot on Merrill Street is zoned properly already, a 90 story building could be built there, regardless of what's next door. It's really frustrating to see positive developments like this struggle, they come along so infrequently in Indy.

    The park everyone makes mention of where the Simons built is constructed on top of a parking garage. The city did everyone a favor a long time ago and put a park on top of the garage, but it was always meant to be developed. The garage was built with that in mind. I did like the park, and still do.

    Now, the people who are making a big deal about the hill next to the parking garage on the canal need to pick their fights better. There are a lot of underused parks downtown (and yes, Military Park, and White River State Park are downtown, I don't care if they're west of West St.). The Pan Am Plaza is underused (My heart still aches for the Intercontinental). Let's develop the hill and block the view of the parking garage. As for a park dedicated to Lincoln, okay, let's find an area where one of our greatest presidents doesn't sit in the shadow of a massive parking garage.
  • Bob: I'm not sure, but I think AUL owns the lots you were speaking of. There are plenty of empty or under-used parcel on Washington Street that would have been great too, but they would have run into problems with the IHPC.

    By the way, I'm sure most of you probably saw it, but the Urban Times reported that the Front Page on Mass Ave is planning an expansion. They are taking over the space formerly occupied by Cord Camera.

    On a completely different topic, I realize in the age of blogs and emails, people have let their spelling, grammar and sentence structures go to waste. But if you are taking the time to post something on a blog, I would think you would want people to actually be able to read and understand it...
  • Tony, I'm not saying they should completely put a big red X on it but it does seem out of scale. I'm not against it, I think it could be interesting but I am strongly against demolishing the victorian homes in that neighborhood. Densify the area around them but don't tear them down. Not everything thats old is historic, BUT a lot of things that are old have certian details, strength, etc that can never be achieved today. I see nothing wrong with keeping our INTACT older housing stock to properly preserve aspects of Indianapolis history and culture. I don't care if a 1940's gas station or 1968 corner carpet cleaner is torn down, but I am against a brick home from the late 19th century in perfect condition being torn down to simply 'densify' a neighborhood when many of the original homes and structures are dense and have charm plus local influence none of these current projects can recreate.
    If we tear down every victorian structure in the city that isn't 'historic' we will lose the charm(not to mention chunks of our local culture and history) that attracted many residents to downtown in the first place.
  • Tony has a great point. Preservation reaches a point of diminishing returns when it prevents growth with something better. There were sprawling country farm homes on Manhattan island at one time, but they were obviously replaced and I don't think anyone would say that growth should have been curtailed in New York the 1800s. I consider myself a preservationist, but cringe when I see some misuse the movement to prevent any kind of growth or change. I see it in Broad Ripple a lot. It should be considered a positive sign that property values reach a point where higher density development is feasible.
  • Bob -
    That site was never planned to stay a 'park'. The intention was to always put a building there, and don't be surprised when another complex goes up just south of the Simon building. It's an underground parking garage below waiting for development above. Get over it.
  • Has anyone noticed how awful the Westin looks on the outside? The hotel doesn't look that old.......does anyone remember when they built it? Perhaps it was before Circle Centre? It looks like they built a suburuban style hotel in downtown.......the inside is great though......
  • Bill thats true. We shouldn't stop development to preserve everything. We should preserve aspects of architecture and areas of historic importance or events. But, I don't see how tearing down several old victorian homes is progression when they can easiely be turned into shops or cafes in the future. I'v seen many old homes turned into shops quiet tastefully in efforts to preserve the architecture or charm of an area while not stunting development. My only problem is when people go straight to 'tear em down' instead of trying to find ways to preserve them while keeping development going.
  • It's good to be a beer drinker right now..


    WTF is wrong with you whiney azzed folk?
  • Actually Chris, a 90-story building could not be built; and as you might have noticed, a 24-story building could not be built there without the approval of significant variances. The site has certain limitations that they wanted to obliterate, while also vacating an alley for private use, clearly not meeting the required public interest test.

    They have the option, as they have always had, of building a building on that site within the parameters of the zoning Ordinance without impacting the surrounding uses. At this point, they have made a choice not to do so.
  • Think the positive press about the Cultural Trail is good....Just wait til we get our very own China Town on the Southside! We'll be on the front page of the New York Times!
  • Chris brings up a good point. What is downtown Indianapolis today? I think it is delimited on the east and north by I-65 and 10th St., on the west by White River (so it includes IUPUI and the hospital complex), and on the south by South St.

    I agree that two parts of that definition are a little gray: when Lucas Oil Stadium opens south of South Street, I think that whole swath of the city down to I-70 will more commonly be thought of as downtown. And the area north of I-65 to about 21st St. which includes Methodist Hospital, three TV station headquarters, the Cathedral complex and a couple of high-rise apartment buildings certainly has elements of downtown.

    The newest Regional Center plan extends to 16th St. on the north, White River on the west, and I-70 on the south. So that's the official definition.
  • I'm just happy to be a part of this important thread.
  • What improves a park is creating more activity in it. To the extent that people eat lunch at an outdoor cafe or are drawn to the fountain, arbors, or benches during hot weather, it's good. In that regard, the mere presence of the Simon building and its employees probably has improved the park while it also contributed to a more-dense downtown.

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.

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