Friday open thread

March 21, 2008
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Besides college basketball, what's on your mind today? A starting point: What do you think of Simon Property Group's venture into the condo business with a 47-story tower atop a Nieman Marcus in Boston? (A spokeswoman for the tower's designer, Elkus-Manfredi Architects, said a rendering showing the full tower is not yet available.) Would a project like this ever fly in Indianapolis?
Copley Tower
  • Never! :(
  • It would have been a great idea had they done this to their HQ. But too bad they weren't so forward thinking back then!
  • hmmm what about you homies here in Indy Simon...maybe you could have done the new convention center hotel. Then we would have ended up with Walt Disney World Parking Lot looking suburban ugh!
  • I think its a very good time to go for a cold beer in Broad Ripple Village. :D
  • Certainly, under the right circumstances, i see no reason why a project like this couldn't work in Indy. I would suggest, however, that apartments be included as part of the tower.

    If something like the Museum Tower could be seriously considered for Louisville, then absolutely something along the lines of this project could work here in Indianapolis.

    Justin, you are just entirely too negative when it comes to the future of Indy.
  • No. The city would never approve it. And the market couldn't support it either. Indy should be happy enough that they decided to build their HQ downtown adding to the skyline and not moved it to north strip of 465 like so many other of the white collar employers are.
  • I think Simon should have considered this development for downtown Indy. Considering their headquarters being based in the city, they should have reinvested in other areas of the downtown core. It would have been nice to see them pout their money towards something new and innovative in the East Washington Street corridor. But oh well, only time will tell, maybe they will consider it, maybe not, we'll have to wait and see...
  • Cityside, I believe its a fact that the flow of relocations is quite the opposite of what you describe. I know for years that it was quite common for downtown companies to relocate to the northside, I believe that trend has recently reversed, however.
  • I think it could be done. I don't know why everyone believes Museum plaza is so cutting edge. Its just a bunch of boring boxes stacked on top of eachother and from what I've heard they are having problems.
    I think a tower like this could work. I'm not a fan of the style but a tower like this with apartments would work well.
  • Hey Brick by Brick, I am in agreement with you. I'm not a fan of Museum Tower, by the way..... I don't think it fits in AT ALL in downtown Louisville. Plus, I don't really think it's even going to happen anymore. Point is, someone seriously thought that a project like that could work there so I dont see any reason not to think the Simon project could work here (with a few minor tweaks).
  • Let me remind you that a 35 story tower is getting ready to be built here in Indy. The biggest difference is that our tower won't interface with the street as well as this tower. The positive effect of our tower will be diminished by a random setback, blank walls, curb cuts and a scaleless curtain wall glass facade.
  • 35 story tower? where??????
  • I believe Hoss is referring to the new JW Marriott.
  • If Simon is in the residential tower business now, why not have them submit a proposal for MSA. Tell them to show some love for their hometown:)
  • In fairness, the Simon HQ really couldn't be much taller than it is without casting major shadows on the state capital, something that just isn't going to happen. I'm not a huge fan of the site or the architecture, but that's one they got right.

    With Simon getting into the residential tower business, it does beg the question of whether they can do the same thing in Indy. The ideal scenario for MSA is one high rise tower per block (or more), integrated with a mixed use complex that engages with the streets on all four sides. It's a perfect spot for significant retail development to serve the northeast side. Now Neimans probably isn't in the picture, but other things could be. (Imagine if Simon had integrated their headquarters into a proposal for this block).

    Whatever the case, Simon isn't going to do it if it doesn't make financial sense to them, and that is as it should be. They have a duty to their shareholders after all. And I believe that for the long term benefit of Indianapolis, it needs strong, healthy corporations and the only way to get that is to make lots of money. The best recipe for downtown Indianapolis is to retain financially prudent, well run companies like Simon.
  • We aren seriusly going to get nto the MP debate again. That tower was never going to be built in Louisville. No reason, no moeny, no museum. Same goes for the the arena the was suppose to be built. They will just go on promoting that city with photoshoped images of things that aren't even built and probably never will be.

    I love they way they go on and on about how they have this and that..esp arts and culture when they have less thearte than some of the surronding cities, they don't have a full time symphony, no museums of note. Enough said.
  • Gbow, in fairness Louisville isn't the only city getting hit by the recent financial crisis. Will that Venu project ever materialize in Indianapolis, for example?

    Louisville has many nice things about, led by its stellar neighborhoods. Even without Museum Plaza, they've already got one architecturally prominent skyscraper, the Humana Building, designed by Michael Graves, the architect who basically couldn't get a commission in his home town. And the biggest initiative isn't bricks and mortar per se so it doesn't show up on the development radar. That is the City of Parks initiative, which is adding thousands of acres of parks and well over 100 miles of new trails to the park system. Much of the land is already secured. And there's a reason why so many influential indie rockers like Will Oldham, Janet Bean, Rodan, and Slint called or still call Louisville home.

    It isn't necessary to put neighboring cities down in order to talk about good things in Indianapolis.
  • I'd gladly settle for apartments and parking on top of a Target downtown...and taking a cue from both Target and The Urbanophile, it would be great if Michael Graves designed it.
  • ps to Urbanophile: Michael Graves designed both the Indianapolis Art Center in Broad Ripple and the former RCA/Thomson Consumer Electronics HQ on North Meridian.
  • Thumdermutt I am with you...wouldn't a downtown Target be great. BTW Michael Graves already has two buildings in Indy. The Indianapolis Arts Insititute and the NCAA Hall of Champions.
  • I have been saying for a few years now that Simon should convert the 4th floor of CC to residential...I think it would go over well.

    As for a tower, lets allow the market to absorb these condos or just build apartments.
  • not to sure how many more million dollar condos downtown can absorb right now. If Indy could get its mind around rapid transit into downtown maybe more business would relocate downtown driving even more demand for retail and housing.
  • Urbanophile

    According to the Wall Street journal...commerical real estate is not generally in the same state that the housing marketing is in. Commerical real estate still seems to be rather strong.

    No I don't think the Venu will ever be built for three reasons: 1. The company behind it is not on solid ground. 2. Simon would out gun them.
    3. Downtown is a much better place to go with an upscale development.

    Sorry you disagree with my opinion of L'ville, but I lived there for many years and it's the same old story. Talk has always been very cheap there. They are years behind cities like Indy. Mostly due to the policatical in fighthing that never allows them to get on the same page.
  • Gbow,

    Not sure why your disdain for Louisville. Maybe you are just a really big fan of Applebees, Chili's, and TGI Friday's and hate independent restaurants. Perhaps you enjoy 80% of the young people in your town living in an apartment in the suburbs, rather than an area like the Highlands. Or maybe you like your teams to not be in the Sweet 16. Who knows?
  • I just wanted to add a bit to urbanophile's comment on Louisville's music scene to include VHS or Beta and My Morning Jacket who evidently stole the show at last week's South by Southwest Music Festival and Austin, TX.
  • I LOVE My Morning Jacket!!!
  • Does Louisville really have more independent restaurants than Indy?

    I'm looking forward to seeing both Louisville and Western Ky. in the final four, though.
  • VHS or Beta are fun as hell. Some of you tightficted Republicans could use a bit of that music to help you unwind. Too bad last week's concert, Tokyo Police Club, at Birdys was cancelled. Hope they come back by.

    Speaking of music, what is the latest on the expansion of the WRSP Lawn? Weren't they on schedule to make some major improvements and adding more concerts to the agenda? Anyone?
  • The Humana Building dates from the early 80's, and was a landmark building nationally and part of building Grave's reputation. Did Graves get a commission in Indianapolis prior to the 1990's? The first work he did locally I believe was the facade of the Thomson Consumer Electronics HQ in Carmel. He only started getting commissioned in Indy after it was well past the embarrassment point that he'd never really designed a structure in his home town. In fact, has he actually designed a from scratch structure in Indy? The Hall of Champions Museum had to incorporate a historic building. Did the IAC involve an existing structure as well?

    The NCAA Museum is similar to, but not as nice as, the Engineering Research Center building at the University of Cincinnati.
  • I can't speak as to the quantity of independently owned restaurants in Louisville vs. Indianapolis. But quantity is the wrong measure, anyway.

    If you want to get a sampling of what's going on in the Louisville restaurant scene, the place to go is The forums there are highly recommended. The mere existence of a site like this speaks volumes about dining out in Louisville.
  • If someone doesn't start looking at converting/building some decent sized moderatly priced living accomodations in the downtown areas, there isn't going to be much need for additional after work-hours retail.

    Forget this snobby tower, tower, tower attitudes and build a living downtown area - one the young people who work in the area will be able to afford living in, as well as the older folks who have developed a taste for the symphony and plays, but who can't even afford to downsize their exisiting suburb house to go downtown. Families are probably never going to be much of an option downtown.

    We need some late night places like Chic'n and Waffles, or Big Breakfast Bar or even (lord forbid) a Denny's to also support moderate living downtown. Those folks can't eat at St. Elmos or Mortons or PF Changs...... Nor can they usually eat before the less expensive places close at 5 or 6.

    Indy needs life not just architecture.
  • I really don't have a disdain for L'ville, it's the polictics of that city that just drove me crazy when I lived there and I think it's what held the city back for so long. I always found it funny that Louisville mergered with Jefferson County after Lexington actually became the largest city in Kentucky.

    As far a local great restaurants
    I've lived in both cities...Indy gets my nod fom me.

    Not sure about the 80% living thing, but this is a big city sprawling city. But I will put Indy's downtown redevelopment and housing developement over the last 20 years against any city.

    I don't know .I kind of like professional sports and having superbowl champions and such. And I acutally like havig Final 4s here in the city which we do at least every 5 years. Sorry that was a little tongue in cheek.

    Honestly I am not sure about some of the Michael Graves projects here in Indy. I know he was born here, raised here and went to Broad Ripple High School. I was totally unaware that he had designed the outside the the Thomson building, but now that you say that...yes it does look exactly like something he would do. The Arts center I just simply donn't know if that was an add on. The NCAA from my understanding is a total MG design.

    I will shut up...I love living in move I ever made.
  • Small town, the prices are high downtown. That's driven by three things in my view. One is the sky high cost of land, much of which has a lot of speculative value embedded in the asking price. Even small parcels can cost seven figures. The second is the poor zoning and historic district regime in place downtown, which is red tape city and raises development costs. And the last is inefficient land use, largely resulting from the aforementioned historic districts and zoning practices, as well as developers who don't have experience at much else besides low density.

    One idea I've long supported is a split rate or outright land value tax. That is, tax the site value disproportionately to the building. It seems backwards that we reward someone who builds the Bank One Tower with a huge tax bill, while the people who tear down historic structures to build surface lots actually see their taxes reduced. If there were a very heavy price to be paid, namely a high tax bill, on vacant land, it would encourage people to put that land to good use.
  • Also, small town, part of the problem isn't an inability of people to afford to live downtown, it is unwillingness. Lots of Hoosiers moved to Chicago and found ways to afford housing that is 3x-4x the cost in Indiana. People are just used to paying a higher percentage of their paycheck for housing in bigger cities. People in Indy are not psychologically ready for it - though they'd get a readjustment pronto if they moved to a higher housing cost locale.
  • Louisville's dining scene is light years ahead of Indy's. Indy does have some great Applebees though!
  • Helen

    You need to get out more. Try Elements, SI, R Bistro, Corner Wine Bar, Deno's Vino, 3 Sister Cafe, Brugge Brassrie etc, and some of the locally owned and run restaurants downtown, Broad Ripple and throughout the city. Here is a good site to visit.
  • Louisville's independent restaurant options have Indy not only beat, but creamed (some culinary references for ya!).

    R Bistro and Elements are flawless, but not inexpensive for a casual weeknight meal. I've had flat-out BAD meals at two of the other restaurants on your list, Gbow, and won't be going back.

    small town girl makes a GREAT point - what downtown needs is simple and affordable options for after 6pm, as well as daily living things like delis, storefront produce markets, and competing grocery stores.
  • Indianapolis has a far better restaurant scene.
  • If you are going to talk about independent Indianapolis restaurants, you can't omit the best restaurant in the city - L'Explorateur.
  • I would never even consider Indianapolis to have a good dining scene. Sure, we have some great restaurants here, but for the most part people here eat at Chili's. The chain addiction here is pretty sick.
  • Urbanophile

    You are correct, my bad, L'Explorateur should not have been left of my list.
  • Donna,

    Sorry you had a bad experience at some of the restaurants I listed. Personally I have never had anything but great food at any of them.

    I agree, the deli, groercy store type shopping is still not great downtown. It is one of the things that needs to come up to par with the rest of downtown, but I don't think that is to far out in the distanct future ( 3 years) with all the new movement downtown with Condos, and now it appears some developers are trying to fill in with apartment options.

    My best quess is we won't see that happen until the Market Square area gets developed. And, given Ballard's stance on that area that doesn't look good. Additionally that area will not be redeveloped until the MS ramp is gone which will take a couple of years. Until then I your best option is the City Market during the day. Does anyone know if they still have that open street market day during the summer. I liked that alot. Btw. I think the interior redo of the City Market is awful. It was better before the upgraded it. LOL. I have often thought of opening something small in there, just not sure what it would be.
  • Snall town girl

    I also think you make a great point about affordable things downtown.
    But if you look closely at places like Circle Centre you are beginning to see a trend toward more affordable retail stores there. The Mall has now matured to the point that the retailers there know that not everyone can afford to shop a Nordstroms and the like. But there is still plenty of very affordable places to eat downtown for the lunch time crowd and into the evening.

    Also, try to keep in mind that a good portion of downtow is geard toward convention business still and professional sporting events. Those demos draw crowds that tend to have more expendable income...which is actually what the city wants.

    I work downtown too and on whole I think there is a pretty good balance.
  • benjamin. Most people go to chains because they are affordable and quick. Many independant places arent very affordable to lower and even middle class families most of the time. Not everyone can afford sit down.
  • Benjamin

    You might want to condsider that yes Indy does have a lot of chain restaurants because it is a larger city by about 400,000-500,000 people so yes there are going to be more (quantity) of chain restaurants. or, a least the appearance there are more chains here...well yes there are more locations in fact due to the above facts.

    Additionaly Indy is ranked as the 4th most affordable housing market in the US and generally considered a great place to raise a family. On top of that the median household income here is higher than say..Louisville if that is what we are using as a restaurant comparsion stick. Families tend to pack up the kids and head to Applebee's and places like that. I know my partner and I don't want to pack up the kids and take them to say Elements.
  • Thanks for your astute explanation on why people eat at chain restaurants.

    My point was really the lack of local restaurants and inability for hoosiers to support the ones we are even lucky to have due to over-saturation and general laziness.
  • I wouldn't say hoosiers have a general laziness or over-saturation. It is not unique to this state. Local resaruants are not usually as affordable and if I dare say as good as most chains. Good local restaruants tend to do well but most people would rather go somewhere they are used to then take a chance. That is just general human behavior.
  • Not everyone has in their mind the issue of supporting local flavor. Only people who are interested in that do so. One must make local restaruants and local flavor appealing to the middle and lower class. The reason chains flourish is because they are quick, decent, and affordable. Most hoosiers don't think about 'what about my local culture?' or 'is this tasteful?'. They just think 'hey I've got food, I can go on with my day'. Its not like they have a common choice between some great elite restaruant and a burger king.
  • Interesting article in bizjournals I found. They ranked fun cities and one of the categories was eating and drinking experiences in the top 50 markets in the US. Indy ( believe 24 th) actually out ranked every city in the midwest with the exception of Chicago. And Louisville's claim to fame ...sadly came in OMG 45th! Let me repeat that that 5th from last.
  • Most hoosiers don’t think about ‘what about my local culture?’ or ‘is this tasteful?’. They just think ‘hey I’ve got food, I can go on with my day’.

    Sounds like laziness to me.

    It's unfortunate that people don't put more thought into where they spend their money and what food they eat. Chain restaurants serve highly unhealthy food in large quantities.

    I'm not trying abolish chain restaurants, but the general awareness of supporting local businesses is important. It's definitely getting better and I believe it's very important to the future success of this city.
  • benjamin: Chain restaurants serve highly unhealthy food in large quantities.

    I think that's a pretty big generalization. Sure this is definately true about fast food places, like this Burger King opening on County Line. What about places like Subway, Quiznos, or Qdoba, which seem to pop up in every new strip mall? that's reasonably healthy food. I support local food as well, but the reason chains are chains is because their food is good and recognizable to the general populace. A chain restaurant was once a very successful local establishment. In all honesty, from what I've seen - a lot of local places end up with health violations at the same rate as chains.
  • Subway, Quiznos, or Qdoba... these are still fast food joints that cater to the sloven masses. Sure most chains offer a salad, but that doesn't make their food healthy for you.

    The only thing good about chain food is possibly the taste. It is NOT good food
  • It is not healthy. But like you said it seems more people are thinking locally. I hope people start thinking more locally because fast food restaruants have this disturbing power over us. I wouldn't call that laziness but when people are extremely busy it seems like the quickest and 'safest' choice. Then again there are people who are just like 'Them golden arches! We are in America!.
  • Brick by Brick's assessment of local restaurants is interesting to me because it's exactly the opposite of what my experience has been. While some local places are more pricey sit-down type of restaurants, there are plenty of affordable and even fast local places. And I always find the food to be superior. Yat's, Shelbi Street Cafe, Santorini's, Shapiro's (split a sandwich--it's big enough!), any number of hole-in-the-wall Mexican or Chinese spots--are all affordable at least for lunch and fairly reasonable for dinner. Be daring--you'll get more hits than misses.
  • I would say I a 60% local restaurant and 40% chain type guy. I have certain restaurants I like to eat at and I frequent them when I can.
    I love Elements and SI esp. While the Palomino Club and Oceanaire are I guess technically chains, there ar what I would call premium upscale chains in that the have very few restaurants in on select cities.

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