Gasoline Alley businesses upset

February 4, 2009
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A proposed closure of Grande Avenue in Speedway has more than a few Gasoline Alley businesses riled up. Allison Transmission—which has plants on both sides of Grande Avenue just south of 10th Street—along with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission, has requested the road closure.

The Speedway Redevelopment Commission is the group working on major overhauls to the town of Speedway which include enhancements around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to make the place more of a 12-month destination. But Gasoline Alley businesses, including a number of racing related enterprises, said the closure of Grande Avenue will cut off their much needed access to the Brickyard’s front door on 16th Street and hurt their business. Grande Avenue is just north of Gasoline Alley, which runs between Rockville and Cossell roads.

“This is life and death down here for a lot of these businesses,” said Charlie Patterson, who owns seven commercial buildings along Gasoline Alley. “If they cut off our direct access to 16th Street, that will really do some serious damage.”

The proposal was scheduled to be heard at the Feb. 11 meeting of the Metropolitan Development Commission Plat Committee, but Allison officials this week asked for a continuance of the matter to the March 11 meeting. It should be a lively meeting, with a boisterous group of business owners and nearby Garden City residents planning to show up to let their concerns be known.

To read more on this issue from the latest IBJ edition, go here.
  • Classic catch 22. If they do not close it, Allisons may say that they and/or the government does not feel the factories are secure and safe from terrorist attacks and pull production from the plant costing jobs. If they do close it, then a lot of small businesses will be hurt. Which is more important, potentially thousands of high paying factory jobs or dozens of small businesses.

    A good alternative would be to offer to relocate those businesses along Gasoline Alley. Not cheap, not perfect, but an alternative.
  • I'm not sure what the traffic count on Gasoline Alley is, but you have to wonder if part of the intent is to push traffic from that area up through the newly revitalized area. And I'm sure there's some pressure on the redevelopment commission from Allison to support this or not get Allison's full support on the redevelopment project. Also I don't think IMS officials were ever too crazy about renaming that section of road Gasoline Alley. Too much confusion with the section near the garages inside the Brickyard known by the same name.
  • I used to work down there, and I laugh at the security issues. If you cut off the terrorists access from Grande, they'll just attack the defenseless truck transmissions from Michigan or 10th.

    Keep the road open and put up a security fence if you're scared. The road is too important to too many other people.
  • In an economy where companies are laying employees off daily, it is critical that we provide local employers with the opportunity to maintain and even create jobs. Our government is looking to spend billions of dollars, and we are fortunate to have several companies here with government contracts. Let’s not jeopardize their ability to continue to obtain federal work, and/or encourage them to relocate to another community/state that will accommodate them.
  • This is a challenging issue. Allison needs to retain and increase Department of Defense manufacturing and maintain their ability to win additional military contracts so that they can protect the current workforce and add additional jobs and positions within the company.
  • The Redevelopment Plan went through extensive public input, and was approved by the Speedway Town Council some time ago. In the earliest stages of planning several Speedway stakeholders made requests and provided feedback. Allison was one of them. The closure of Grande Ave. is clearly important to their business and its preservation of jobs. Hence, it is part of that approved plan. It has been approved. Let’s move toward implementation.
  • No one has taken the initiative to redevelop the speedway area in some
    time. Part of the Speedway plan is to retain business and create jobs.
    Let's support the jobs our employers, both large and small, provide.

    Indiana has made motorsports a key area of focus. The area just south of
    the IMS should be very attractive to motorsports industry related
    business. Couldn't business on Gasoline Alley consider relocating there
    as well?

    My understanding is that the closure of Grande Ave. is not important to
    Allison because it is part of a redevelopment plan, but rather is part
    of the redevelopment plan because its closure is import to retain
    business and create jobs at Allison.

    No answers, just thoughts.
  • My two cents: If you look at an aerial view, the need to close Grande becomes a little clearer. On each side of the street are two large buildings... with thousands of employees and cars.

    Closing Grande would enable Allison to create a safer campus without a road running through it... employees can better access both areas, security issues are reduced and a more conducive environment for commerce and development is created.

    Yes, change is difficult, but the Gasoline Alley folks will still have a safe, direct access to the track with little time added to the trip.
  • Dana,

    You do realize that besides defenseless transmissions, Allisons does quite a bit of work on Military transmissions. The kind of thing that could make it a terrorist target. By closing down the street, you have cut down on the danger of an attack. How tempting would it be to run a semi full of explosives between those buildings and level them both? In addition, as has been stated, it would eliminate the need for employees to go through security checkpoints just to move between buildings.
  • This reminds me (on a smaller scale) of what went on when Eli Lilly was expanding downtown, vacating streets and buying up properties. Some of you folks with a bit of institutional knowledge may recall what went down when Lilly expanded along Kentucky Avenue, including street closures. Oh my, the hue and cry ... and in some cases rightfully so.
  • Yep, it was the end of Porky Lane.

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