IBJNews

Greenwood's Old Town revival targets sidewalks, traffic flow

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An obstacle course of light poles and road signs forces pedestrians to weave single file along the narrow, uneven sidewalks in downtown Greenwood.

jarrett-les-mug.jpg Jarrett

From his perch at the cash register at the A-Trains model train shop, Les Jarrett has a direct view of the traffic that routinely backs up in front of his store during rush hour on Main Street.

“It actually can benefit me,” he chortled. “People sit in their cars and look through my windows.”

Jarrett and a dozen barbers, salon stylists, tattoo artists, antique consigners and other mom-and-pop entrepreneurs around Greenwood’s core have thrown their support behind plans to refurbish and re-energize the aging downtown.

greenwood_041513-15col.jpg Main Street traffic passes through the heart of Greenwood's Old Town. (IBJ photo/Perry Reichanadter)

The project would begin with an investment of up to $9 million for wider sidewalks and one-way stretches for Main Street and Madison Avenue—designed to make the area known as Old Town more appealing to both vehicle and foot traffic. More people passing through the area would translate to more business openings, creating a better downtown, city officials believe.

“We’ve talked about it for years, and there’s one thing that will solve all our problems,” said Chuck Landon, a member of the Greenwood Economic Development Commission. “And that’s customers.”

greenwood_jump_041513-15col.jpg Main St. Cutz co-owner and barber Vinny Berberena shaves Max Web, a client in the younger age group coveted by downtown Greenwood retailers. (IBJ photo/Perry Reichanadter)

Traveling south along Madison Avenue, downtown Greenwood’s other main artery, leads by a foreclosed real estate building that will soon house city offices. Veer onto Market Plaza to pass by a pizza joint, drive-in diner, an auto-parts store and little else.

The area blends hometown warmth with ghost-town desertion.

The community proved it wanted to keep the historic element intact after former Mayor Charles Henderson proposed demolishing several of the structures and rebuilding. Voters responded in the 2011 primary election by ousting him from office after four terms.

But improvements to downtown Greenwood would be much appreciated.

“This is our downtown, and it’s like a ghost town,” said Miguel Rodriguez, who owns Main St. Cutz with partner Vinny Berberena.

Infrastructure first

City-commissioned renderings show dreams of privately developed condos, boutiques and bistros.

greenwood-map.gifThe first step to attracting those businesses would involve hefty infrastructure upgrades, according to the plans.

Greenwood would shift a congested few blocks of a two-way thoroughfare on Main Street into a one-way route. In doing so, the city would ditch a middle turn lane and use the extra room to widen narrow sidewalks in front of the shops.

“You can have a baby stroller, you can have a motorized wheelchair, or you could walk arm-in-arm with your girlfriend without any problem,” Landon said.

Westbound traffic would hold its course on the road. But going east would mean traveling farther as the one-way route dipped south through Market Plaza, passed through a roundabout, turned onto Madison Avenue—then jaunted onto an ancillary road before reconnecting with Main Street where it would resume two ways.

Landon said the changeup should make traffic move faster, despite the diversion for people driving east.

“Look at the [stop] lights’ structure, with skinny, little lanes,” he said. “Traffic can line up two or three lights back. It’s very, very difficult for the morning commute.”

Myers Myers

The roadwork should cost the city $8 million to $9 million and last up to three years, he said.

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said other necessary infrastructure work not covered by the downtown proposal “could easily double” current projections. Fifty-year-old sanitation and storm-water systems desperately need upgrades, he said in an email to IBJ.

The Economic Development Commission has proposed creating a tax increment financing district and earmarking the tax revenue to fund the downtown project.

The city council, which has the legal ability to create a TIF district, has yet to move forward on doing so as the city focuses on other priorities.

Myers listed several other development projects his office plans to finish first: moving city offices into a new building, putting in a splash park, building an aquatics center, widening part of Worthsville Road, and turning around the municipal airport’s finances.

Not so new

Greenwood has spent years attempting to pump life back into the heart of its city, where 25 buildings have historic status.

Mayor Henderson pitched the more radical—and heavily criticized—idea of demolishing seven buildings and redeveloping them with mimicked versions of their historical predecessors.

The plan caught the attention of Indiana Landmarks, which listed downtown Greenwood as one of its “10 Most Endangered” landmarks in 2011.

Henderson’s loss in the primary election that year nixed the demolition plans and the area’s spot on the endangered list.

The latest plans have received Indiana Landmark’s blessing.

Rebecca Smith, a community preservation specialist for the group, said the building owners need to consider federal incentives to refurbish their properties and maintain a historic appeal.

“Being listed on the national register is a point of advertising, a point of pride,” Smith said.” It should be celebrated and taken advantage of.”

Zach Kyle, who owns the downtown bar Blind Pig, said the buildings need to keep their historic allure, but façade upgrades are also a must if the area is going to compete with downtown Indianapolis, Broad Ripple or even the Greenwood Park Mall area about a mile to the north.

“Who’s going to want to buy a new bar near an old building like that?” Kyle asked as he pointed through a window to a void, haggard building across the street. “At the same time, I don’t want them to come in and level buildings. I like that old-fashioned look.”

Build it, brand it

Businesses have largely relied on word-of-mouth and local advertising to pull in customers, but there has been no orchestrated effort for downtown as a whole.

Landon said Greenwood needs to think of ways to draw new businesses and customers beyond physical improvements to the buildings and streets.

“If you’re a businessperson, you build it, you brand it, you market it,” he said. “It’s not just, ‘Build it and they will come.’ We have to do this professionally.”

What the brand will be remains up in the air.

Landon said he would like to see the area focus more on the “family-friendly” image.

“I think it’s very important, the type of businesses we get in here,” he said. “We have to be very careful.”

However, business owners in the area said they want a mix that will appeal to younger crowds as well.•

“We need more of a mix to pull everyone,” said Rodriguez from Main St. Cutz.•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Joe is Right
    Short sightedness has been a development hallmark of Greenwood. The waterpark is too small. The pool is taking forever. Bookends of the same problem. No vision. They need to get offices down there and build their base. Faux fasades and atmosphere, not the goofy one way road idea. Concentrate on upgrading and getting rid of tatoo parlors and used car dealerships. Concentrate on your strengthgs---e.g. teh businessnes on Madison just down from Main St. intersection. How about a roundabout in the old bank parkinglot to improve traffic flow. Is this really that hard to figure out?
  • Short-Sighted
    While the infrastructure will seem new in the beginning, mark my words, creating an obstacle course of 1-way streets will devestate the area. Greenwood will again be looking into how to invest in this area. As many cities are correctly moving away from 1-way streets, this investment seems unecessary and misguided. If you want to kill pedestrian activity, install 1-way streets. Investing money for a peak hour and calling it economic development is laughable and unfortunate. I wish Old Town the best, but this isn't it.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

    2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

    3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

    4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

    5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

    ADVERTISEMENT