Merrill Tower moving west

March 6, 2008
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West Merrill TowerDeveloper Stephen Alexander isn't fazed by a zoning setback for his $67 million West Merrill Tower. The Metropolitan Development Commission denied his request to vacate an alley for the 24-story project, so Alexander plans to simply move the project's proposed footprint about a block to the west, on property he also owns. The tower, between Eli Lilly & Co.’s Faris Campus and Lucas Oil Stadium, would include first-floor retail, a parking garage, 40 apartments and a 225-room hotel. The proposal won rezoning approval Wednesday, but the MDC denied an alley vacation request and deadlocked on a skyplane variance. Alexander says the city needs to help facilitate projects that add density, rather than obstructing them.
  • wait so this is in an entirely different location now? 0_o
    They make a good point. It seems as if this city is always trying to shoo away projects like density is scary. I hope its built!
  • Nice project concept, but can it get financing?

    I admire the efficiency of lot utilization. The architecture leaves much to be desired, however. Could the city be pushing for a refresh of the design?
  • For Indianapolis to be considered, this is the type of development it needs.

    Think up, not out.
  • The alley vacation should have been denied. The rezoning was not even being considered on yesterday's MDC agenda. It was at Council on Monday and was called up for hearing by Joanne Sanders on behalf of Dane Mahern.
  • I thought there was a newer rendering of this tower than this? One with more glass and brick to match LOS... or is that one older...?
  • The MDC did well to deny the vacation request. Alexander and his counsel, Jos. Calderon, did a very poor job making their case, and the opposition was well-organized.

    Make no mistake, though... this thing WILL get eventual approval... but the city is very shrewdly (I never thought I'd utter that particular phrase) laying the groundwork for leverage to demand a better design.
  • oh please, the denial has NOTHING to do with trying to get a better design. This is Indianapolis we're talking about!
  • This is the ugliest tower proposal that I can recall in recent memory. Simply moving a building to fit a site is a scary proposal. If the tower fits, the city must acquit? Too bad the city does not have the tenacity to tell P/A do go back to the drawing board. Or perhaps it is a shame that the city does not have enough foresight and clearly see that this is simply bad architecture shoe-horned onto a site. I am a big proponent of medium and high density structures, especially in this area. Just not this future mass of urban blight.
  • anyone know who the hotel flag is?
  • Andrew: They're working with Radisson.
  • I agree this a very weak design to say the least. Do we really want to look at this as part of our skyline? We need some real architects in the Indy area. This Alexander guy does not realize most people hate this ugly building. Check out Lake Point Tower in Milwaukee. That is the kind of vision Indy needs.
  • Someone should point out to this developer that there is a rare opportunity to sync up this design with the Circle City motif and echo the JW Marriot and new Central Library. That would complete 3/4 of the downtown circle buildings.

    Anyone else agree?
  • I also agree the design is poor. Seeing this makes me think of the villagio. I do not care for the design of a villagio at all and now we will get to see a villagio on steroids added to our skyline. Man...wouldn't it be nice to have to Kosene developments at the market square site be getting off the ground right now instead of this. Like I think everyone agrees, the density is good, just the design is very poor (though I do like the idea of numerous green roofs in the design)
  • The last thing I heard they were still going with the design that matches LOS which makes sense. With the brick design of other buildings in this area there is a look starting to develop. A curved glass building would just not fit. I really hope they are able to make this happen because I believe it would be another anchor to drive growth south of the tracks.
  • The Villagio on steroids... Awesome! That is a perfect description. Just like The Villagio, I applaud the density, but the architecture is horrible.

    It was designed by an architect with no high-rise experience, and it shows. Check their online portfolio Add some grow-powder to one of their fine strip malls and Voilà! A pseudo beach resort stuck onto one of the ugliest parking garages I've ever seen.

    It's just tacky, crude, and extremely cheap-looking. Alexander should swallow his pride and hire another firm to redesign it.
  • Todd... I looked at the Lake Point Tower design in Milwaukee. Great! That's Milwaukee?!!! First, they get the Art Museum design right, now they're building on that theme. Here's Indy with a celebrate the Arts theme and there is little consistent focus... unlike Indy has successfully done with the sports theme for the past 25 - 30 years. Developers in Indy are focusing on putting cheap (e.g. bad) designs in nice locations. I can't help but try to ignore that awful building by Duke on the NE corner of Washington and Capitol Ave. Ugh. That thing is an embarrassment. For a while, that is what Indy was allowing. Now, the shells may look different, but the same stubby rectangles are being proposed. Simon HQ, though slightly better, is another example. Some of the Motels (not Hotels) on the west side of LOS are a different example of the Wal-Marting of Indy. Great locations... cheap Motels (with their cheezy designs). Good for Indy if they insist on a real design for this West Merrill project and any of the several others. Indy needs better architecture as it grows and builds. The JW is a step in the right direction. Let's top that. My goodness, LouisVILLE, NashVILLE,and MilwaukeeVILLE all get it. 12 - 15 story rectangles, I don't care what the windows look like, are not attractive. It's like Indy architecture is trying to build Ft. Wayne, Toledo, or other small city (big town) skylines in the new millenium. It is people like those of you on these forums that help create an uproar about that. Keep it up!!!
  • I like the design alot. I am always amused by the people on here calling for radical designs. If you want to build it with your money, you can have a say in its design. This looks like it will fit in very well. The library is one of the ugliest and out of place buildings in the city. I think alot of people on here are more interested in building a piece of art than a business. The hotels on West Street look fine to me and will serve a purpose.
  • Hey Im just saying, I agree with most of what you had to say. However, in defense of those
  • I for one am not calling for a radical design. I believe in straightforward good design, regardless of style. I am also a business person and certainly understand the rationale for a property to serve a market and profit from it. This is one of the criteria for architecture, as well as to serve a function such as basic shelter. I also believe that you can have both without sacrifice and increase the health and vitality of the structure. This is true of design for anything, be it a dress, a car, or a tower. We live in an age when we expect good design. Why Indy does not is a mystery to me. To accept this building as proposed is to accept worse than mediocrity. it is bad design, pure and simple.
  • ilkeit... In some cases, it is ours (your) money when projects get subsidized. It's also OUR city when we, the citizens, have to live with sizable projects or bad architecture. That's why WE have zoning boards and development commissions... they are to represent the interests of the city (e.g. it's citizens). People can come to the table with all sorts of projects and some money, but it doesn't mean it will happen because WE, the city, may not approve. No one is forcing anyone to build any of these projects. Business people make their own financial assessments of projects. Financially speaking, it would be in any financier's best interest to build a cheezy structure with minimal cost, if the revenue from the project does not suffer. My point (and others on here) is there are too many low grade projects with bad designs. Again, if they can get good, functional, and appealing designs in other similar size cities, then we expect nothing less for the capital city of the state. As for the library, I like it. Indy took a chance with it. I remember when people were up in arms in Chicago about the State of Illinois building a few decades ago. No big deal now. Yes, Chicago is a big city. But, it has world-renown architecture because some designers take chances and think aggessively. (Take the architecture tour, if you haven't. There are some great buildings along the Chicago river). Again, more immediately, they are trying things in similar size cities to Indy such as Charlotte and the Villes I mentioned. Even Cincy has a new tower going up with a tiara design on the top (to play on the Queen City motto). It will also be their tallest building. Let's think and demand excellence. Once the ball gets rolling, more designers/architects will want to be a part of Indy's new skyline.
  • Local architecure critic featured in national news
  • People cant not expect every single building to be a piece of art, though i believe this build a great design. I looked the Price Alexander website and looked at all of Steve Alexander's work. Not one building I looked at has a bad looking interior, more like an extraordinary interior. I cant wait to see what Price Alexander can do with this building.
  • Sky, you have already seen what Alexander can do with this building. Sorry, it looks like a 24-story Bob Evans. There is nothing wrong with demanding good - not great - design. Bring in the graduate students for a design charette. I'll bet half of their designs are better. I am all for high-rise, high-density development. This is the wrong location. The MDC should also deny any sky plane exposure variance for this project at its current location. Move the project and and design a better looking building.
  • Lou, you make it sound so easy to just move the project to a different area. They want to build in this location because they own it. Now, if they own several plots all over downtown, then yeah, lets see if there is a better location. I'm betting this is the only land they own, and thus, the only land they are willing to build on. Unless, however, someone wants to donate some land. I didn't think so.
  • That's a great argument. I want to build this here, because I own it. Nevermind whether it meets the zoning code or the City's Comprehensive Plan. I own my house, but I'd like to run a pizzeria here instead. Is that o.k.? They couldn't buy a different piece of property, or redesign the project to meet existing codes and address people's legitimate concerns about its impact on their nearby/adjoining properties, let alone the City's concern about its appearance and impact on our ability to draw tourists, convention-goers and prospective future residents?
  • It is apparent these obstructionists have no vision as to what this City could be. Do they merely sit on these commissions to fulfill their need of self-importance? With the City going forth with a new bid for the Olympics, it is beyond comprehension why they would be against high-rise development in the area of the stadium. The new Mayor should completely overall the DMD. There is redundancy in the structure, as is evidenced by the process. They expend City dollars for all of the review processes and hearings, a staff report is issued which recommends approval, then it gets to the Commission and it is summarily denied approval. They should realize they are no longer in high school and these cliques are most unbecoming to the City's image. Indianapolis will continue to struggle rising above the perception that we are anything but a first-class city, as long as these small-minded individuals are allowed to continue. So far as the comments regarding the architecture, they are obviously from persons with no taste or inherent talent of their own.
  • A bid for the Olympics? Charlie, you must be thinking of Chicago.
  • Just wanted to make sure someone was paying attention and actually reading! Of course, it is the bid for the Super Bowl. But, we won't be able to host that scale of an event now or ever with the current small-minded mentality that exists.
  • I've seen the brick rendering and this rendering. Any idea which design will be used? I like the trees on the roof and the coloring a little more, but the brick will fit in more with surroundings.
  • You're all right!!...he owns the land, it is a bad design, he doesn't care what we think, it unfortunately will probably get built, and his ego will beleive he and the building are great. Another American success story, and we have to live with it!
  • I really hope this gets developed with a new design. I think I will scream if I see another Dick's/Ashleys furniture store top to it.
  • I think we are jumping the gun here. While this isn't a mind blowing design, it is one that is fitting Indy. We as a city have to progress and move to more spectacular buildings. Sure places like Nashville or Charlotte are coming up with great designs, and it proves that they are progressing in the design area faster than Indy. That doesn't mean that Indy will not out pace them, and soon have designs that may parallel Chicago.

    It takes time, and if you notice the city is getting several high-rise projects, while all the Villes are getting one.
  • Sorry I have to disagree...the designs here are poor at best. What high-rises? The JW is the only one I know about, and it is about as downtown/urban friendly as a parking lot at Kings Island. I have not idea what the city learders were thinking when they went with that proposal. Obviously they weren't thinking about being city leaders.

    Have you see the two motels the city has allowed to be built next to the luc...down right embarrassing. And cab we please come up with a better name for that area other than Lucasville. How about SoDo.
  • Charlie

    Indy already holds two events a year larger than the superbowl.

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