New mayor, now what?

November 7, 2007
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Greg BallardReal estate developers today are trying to sort out the implications of a major upset in the mayor's race. The mayor-elect, Republican Greg Ballard (pictured), didn't reveal much about his philosophy on development during the campaign. And most developers supported Bart Peterson, the incumbent mayor. They wonder whether Ballard will oppose the tax-abatements that have propelled some of the city's major developments, since angst over property taxes propelled the former Marine to victory.

MSA's future: What will happen with redevelopment of the Market Square Arena site? Developers expect Peterson will leave the decision for the next mayor, or at least consult with Ballard. "This isn't a political decision," said Gerry Kosene, who is on one of two development teams that offered proposals. "Either the project makes sense or it doesn't. A good project is a good project."

Progress continues: Mayoral changes over the years haven't stopped some of downtown's major projects. One example is the transition from William Hudnut to Steve Goldsmith. Goldsmith grumbled about Circle Centre mall before he eventually embraced and completed the project.

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  • Maybe for once developments will pass without the appearance of favors associated with Mayor Peterson's already established relationships in the development community.

    I just have to wonder, even though it has no relevance now, what would have happened with the Intercontinental Hotel proposal.....different game when the strong relationships with White Lodging are severed. Just some food for thought. Not here to pick a fight, just looking forward to the future and what it will hold. Heck, maybe MSA will get off the ground!
  • I think Mayor-Elect Ballard might surprise development and real estate professionals. Here are some predictions:

    - The MSA site will see a successful project. Why? Because some of the political connections that were hamstringing prospective projects are now severed. The site can now be opened up to a public design competition, which will build momentum and public interest, and I would not be surprised to see Architecture with a capital A rise up on the site. Where is Santiago Calatrava when we need him?
    - The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC) staff size will be increased. Why? Ballard is a business man and understands profit centers. The IHPC creates a relatively large bang for the buck in terms of economic development and crime deterrence. Additionally, Ballard seems opposed to public spending on mass transit/ light rail. The IHPC makes downtown living more attractive to suburbanites, which works to reduce traffic congestion. This might reduce pressure on Ballard to keep mass transit on the front burner.
    - The City-County Building will consolidate many of the departments and divisions that had been moved off-site. Why? Ballard knows that a new “justice center” has been needed for years, and once completed – perhaps in a 2nd term if he is lucky – many of the courts and justice-related offices will move out, making way for the return of divisions that currently reside around the city. It will be expensive at first, but will save money for future generations.

    Just a few thoughts to ponder. I’m cautiously optimistic that Ballard might be a friend of development and Smart Growth in Marion County, you know, once he’s done stopping crime, eliminating property tax and all that other stuff.
  • #5 on Ballard's Rules discusses neighborhoods. He's 100% right that many developments downtown have priced the middle class out. My wife and I would love to live downtown but we just can't afford a $300,000 condo. And while I'm pleased with the progress neighborhood's like Fall Creek Place have made I can't justify paying upwards of $300,000-$400,000 for a house surrounded by slums.

    I hope downtown development under his administration remembers that there are young professionals out there in the middle class who would love to live downtown.
  • Hey Josh, look into some other neighborhoods, like Fletcher Place and Fountain Square.
  • Who knows, maybe Ballard will surprise developers....I mean, he certainly looks like he's posing for a Century 21 job in that picture.

    All kidding aside, he better make his mark swiftly, because one of these days, people are going to wake up and realize that they simply voted against Bart Peterson not FOR Greg Ballard, and if he hasn't proven himself capable of handling the job, then he will be an absolute lame duck until 2011.

    I am not being sour grapes here, but anyone who thinks the vote yesterday was a coronation of Ballard instead of the repudiation of Peterson is smoking something heavy
  • Ballard will set this city back 15 years alone by completely disregarding mass transit as a priority. His Hoosiers love their cars mentality will be horrible for the city.
  • UGH Marian... I can't believe Ballard actually thinks that way. I had no idea... well here we go again... setting the city back many years back behind other prominent forward thinking cities. Oh well... I'm still not moving back.
  • Can someone please post a source for the mass transit issue? I'm not implying it doesn't exist, I would just like to know more about his stance on that since this forum is the first place I'd heard of it.
  • The IHPC is one of the principal drivers of increased housing downtown because they drive up the cost of development and the reduce the number of units across which fixed land cost can be amortized.
  • I'll be glad when the dust settles, and everyone's reactions -- and SUPPOSITIONS -- have all been expressed.
  • Regarding the MSA site, I feel the same way about this that I feel about every downtown development. Namely, it is better to leave land sit vacant that to subsidize the development of a subpar project on it just so we can claim progress. Vacant land can already be developed later. It is a natural resource more precious that oil that, once squandered, can only be reclaimed with great difficulty. In our haste to see something, anything on the MSA site, we could easily end up with a structure we'll regret for decades to come.

    As far as I know, apart from the Hoosier Dome site and the Courtyard Marriott site, there have been extremely few if any redevelopments of modern era structures in downtown Indy. Think about the horrific Renaissance Place condos in the NW quad as examples of what could go wrong.

    There are serious problems with both proposals. The worst idea is to plop a big box down on one of those blocks, particularly a low rise, suburban style big box as in one of the proposals. The other one (Kosene I believe) is better, but still is too low density and has problems such as setbacks on Market.

    I'd sleep well at night if neither of those plans were selected. This is one of the most prime pieces of real estate in the city and one of the few places to really build high density housing and a real, super-great urban mixed use project. I'd like to see a mix of 2-4 30+ story towers that fully utilize the block, along with a mix of condos, apartments, significant amounts of retail (even Target, if done right like their Nicolette store in Minneapolis), and potentially even some minor office use.

    The importance of this site cannot be overstated simply because this project is what allows us to build the bridge through the dead zone that currently sits between the Warehouse District and Mass Ave.

    I've been touting this for years. Here, for example, is a letter I wrote to Tamara Zhan on the subject ten years ago. Fortunately, a low rise office park like the terrible Anthem complex appears to be off the table. Though big box isn't much better.

    http://www.urbanophile.com/arenn/letters/idi01.html

    Note: My thoughts on urban development have changed a lot in the last decade, so don't take this note as my current thinking, but the general thrust is still there.
  • I am very cautiously optimistic he'll do a decent if not good job...

    First of all, he seems like a VERY moderate conservative. If you really think about it he really hasn't expressed any terribly conservative views. It could easily have been some neo-con man or some backwards something instead of him... That would've REALLY sucked!

    Secondly, he is a businessman & worked at a business college. Which is refreshing. Ballard also seems like he could be somewhat easily influenced for better or for worse.

    Overall, i'm pretty apathetic towards this. As much as i would have liked to have seen Bart serve his 3rd term's a charm it still wasn't realistic. I firmly belived that Peterson was getting pretty stale in there. Which was not good.

    So here's a cheers to being carefully optimistic. Sound good?
  • Maybe he will take advice from the mayor of Carmel.
    I hope that he does okay with our downtown. I hope he takes the efforts to revitilize central Indianapolis and restore our old neighborhoods back into normal class neighborhoods.
    I wonder what will happen to projects funded by the city.
  • Look at his transition team. Same old Republican cronies - Rex early, Carl Brizzi, Bosma, etc.

    We are screwed people. It will be like stepping back into a 1970's Lawerence IN Elk's Club lodge meeting.

    You people wanted him - well, good luck.

    Bart lost touch and let those around him - including the CCCouncil - ruin his good name. He's a good man and truly wanted to do what's right. Evidently he lost his way with that and now we are stuck with Greg & Winnie.

    Oh joy.
  • And I can't wait til the guy does battle with Frank Anderson & his lawyers over control of IMPD. Frank's gonna hand this guy a whippin that will straighten him out early. Should be fun to watch. :lol:
  • Sad day for Indianapolis Development :(
  • ExIHPC - you write, the IHPC makes downtown living more attractive to suburbanites, which works to reduce traffic congestion.

    I did not know that reducing traffic congestion was an objective of the IHPC. I think it may be time for all IHPC members to refer back to the core mission of the organization so as not to get side-tracked on issues that do not fall under the authority of the IHPC.
  • I can tell you this the new Mayor elect Greg Ballard will not make Mass transit a high priority. I watched one of the debates over the internet. Both Mayor Peterson and Greg Ballard both agreed mass transit was not a high priority at this time. In my opinion mass transit is important and should be a top priority for any new mayor. Big mistake on their part.
    With crude oil at almost $100.00 dollars a barrel gas prices at record levels how can the mayor and now Ballard say it's not an important issue. To be a great city you need a great transportataion system.

    Also since Peterson screwed up MSA so badly these are some of reason he's now longer mayor. To many rules on ther project. Number of units sold. If they had started the project with the 31 story building it would have been completed and sold out by now.
  • Maybe we can finally get some projects with decent architecture in the city. Is there still time to rid the city of the horrendous JW Marriott? I never heard that an agreement was finalized.
  • Mass transit isn't the top priority for some reasons I can see. For one, growth is being centered out of the city. Why focus on mass transit when the city's population is stagnant? Crime has been going up, and THAT should be a top priority. No one is going to ride a bus or a train when they don't feel safe doing it. When the major things are fixed - crime, property taxes, etc - THEN we should focus on revitalizing neighborhoods to increase density, and then focus on mass transit.
  • I think its safe to assume Ballard is not going to be a leader when it comes to urban planning, but i continue to be optimistic about the future of urban development in Indianapolis.

    A couple of things to consider:

    1) The days of directing tax dollars to politically-connected local developers, while eliminating outside competition for major city projects should be over. In my opinion, this is a reason why Indianapolis continues to see lackluster projects proposed in comparison to other cities.

    2) If Ballard is indifferent in regards to urban development, then he may be positively influenced by some of his Republican counterparts (i.e. Mayor Brainard).
  • >>When the major things are fixed - crime, property taxes, etc - THEN we should focus on revitalizing neighborhoods to increase density, and then focus on mass transit.
  • (oops)
    When the major things are fixed - crime, property taxes, etc - THEN we should focus on revitalizing neighborhoods to increase density, and then focus on mass transit.

    Revitalizing neighborhoods cannot be separated from fixing crime, property taxes, etc. Look at Fountain Square: revitalization and safety have gone hand in hand. Revitalization, because it's visible, changes people's perceptions. Revitalization rebuilds the tax base, and provides jobs in construction and in commercial establishments. It's grass-roots economic development.

    What's nuts is the perception that crime is spiraling out of control in the Downtown and near-downtown areas. The numbers say serious crime has been both up and down in the past few years, not consistently and unrelentingly up.
  • This isn't looking good:

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071107/LOCAL/711080485

    When introducing Ballard on election night, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said Ballard's election would mean no more time spent on greenway projects, lights and cameras while the people of this community suffer from crime.

    Prior to the election, Ballard called funding the arts nonessential.
    Indianapolis has a vibrant culture and wonderful arts community. But in a fiscal crisis, we must focus on providing essential government services, he wrote in a candidate questionnaire.
  • Hope someone sends the Mayor Elect and his team the economic/community development book Creative Class by Richard Florida.

    It may give him some perspective.
  • I am going to love to sit back and watch all the Buyer's Remorse from people who voted for Ballard without knowing one iota about his positions.

    The positives of the Peterson far outstrip the negatives, and while I will not be so delusional to say he didn't make mistakes, he did. However, I would much rather have Bart with a Republican CCC.

    I hope for all our sakes that Ballard is not as bad as I think he will be, and by bad, I do not mean he is a bad person. He just puts off an aura of ineffectualness. Prove me wrong, Greg!
  • Sofia- The JW Marriott is definitely being built; the design is still under modifications--I've seen a recent rendering and I think its something that the artsy people will like--much more so than the original design published in IBJ (and elsewhere). I'm not sure when the new design will be published...there were several different options when I looked at it.
  • Regarding Mayor Ballard's priorities, reality bites sometimes. We are in a situation where the focus has to change at least for a while. While the previous administration made a priority of power grab regarding the police department, we've seen the result; low morale, extremely high turnover, no support within the ranks. If the people responsible for the city's protection aren't on-board with the change, what have we accomplished. Too much was made of how much money could be saved. Then how much did the city spend on new uniforms, printing, painting and rebadging cars, while the system was dumped in the lap of a Sheriff that seems half-senile.

    Mayor Ballard has much to fix. Granted, his predecessor was a very personable, likeable individual and gained trust as a good deal maker. But in the end, it was the quest for power that did him in.

    Da Hooey criticizes the new Mayor for his selection of a transition team, but that fits the name - a bunch of hooey. He has to get people involved inititally that know the system and the people. He needs time to get over the hump. What would you do, have him put total trust in the outgoing administration, or worse yet, bring in a team of people that have no knowledge or connections? Ridiculous....

    Then Dustin goes off again by saying he's still not moving back. GREAT NEWS, we don't need him. Stay away and put a lid on it Dustin.
  • BerwickGuy,

    Ballard doesn't oppose the police merger; he simply believes that control should be vested in the mayor rather than the sheriff.
  • I know what I got with Bart: out of control spending and for what? Where are our basic services? When I call 911, I expect someone to answer the phone. I have neighbors getting held-up at gun point and I've lived in the same neighborhood (the old city limits for over twenty years).

    I'm ready to take my chances with our new mayor, especially since his focus and mine are the same. The rest is going to have to wait.
  • This is Ballard's transition team according to the Star: Joe Loftus, John Cochran, Isaac Randolph, Greg Wilson, Robert Turner, and Melissa Proffitt Reese. Don't rust BLOGS for accurate info, but then again can you trust the Star. All I can say is lets hope Da Hooey is wrong. I for one do not want to go back to the good old boys like Early.
  • SE Guy:

    Well, you better take a better look then. This is the same group of people that ran the city into the ground under Goldsmith. Rex Early is 100% in there and will be calling ALOT of the shots. Loftus is a complete puppet for Goldsmith, and Wilson and turner are empty suits - JUST LIKE THE NEW MAYOR! I mean, I thought he was beholden to no-one! He was going to bring in new blood? That's completre BS! LOOK AT THE TRNASITION TEAM!


    God, this is so frustrating.

    Buyers remorse? You betcha - I have heard from countless people who thought they would vote for Ballard to send a signal. Well, be careful what you wish for, cause now you made your bed and you get to sleep in it.

    And then KEVIN writes this?!?!?!:

    [QUOTE]1) The days of directing tax dollars to politically-connected local developers, while eliminating outside competition for major city projects should be over. In my opinion, this is a reason why Indianapolis continues to see lackluster projects proposed in comparison to other cities[/QUOTE]

    LMFAO buddy. Do YOU REALLY think this will be the case? Every white business owner in town will be camped out on Rex's front porch looking for contract handouts.

    And last comment (for now) - Ballard's group will obviously be a complete step backwards when it comes to Civil Rights in this town. I feel sad for the minorities in Indy who will step back 30 years.

    Mitch will likely pay the price this time next year. Vote Schellinger!
  • Da Hooey, there are a lot of people out here that don't frown on Goldsmith's administration like you do. While it was Hudnut and his predecessors that planted the seeds, the true renaissance downtown began to grow and flourish on Goldsmith's watch. A lot of what Peterson was able to benefit from downtown was the result of 4 or more terms of extremely well thought out planning by the previous administrations. I'm not dogging Mayor Peterson, just questioning why you are so obviously ignorant of the achievements of Goldsmith???

    Political blindness with regard to government at the municipal level is ridiculously childish and short-sighted. Starting in the 70s, I don't think you can find an argument against the fact that significant progress was made downtown each decade. The 80s were better than the 70s, the 90s better than the 80s, and so on. I remember going downtown in the EARLY 80s........so much has changed, and it didn't start on Peterson's watch. He took the ball and ran with it, but let's give credit where it is due.

    BTW...read '21st Century City'.....good book! :)
  • JoBu, I appreciate your thoughts. I rreally do, and I understand Goldsmith (while I hate the guy) did some good. EVERY mayopr achieved some good.

    BUT - what I am really upset about is this: Ballard's statements that he will be beholden to no one, when it is 100% obvious that the usual suspects are running to the doorstep looking for political favorites and handouts.

    Do you agree?
  • ...and will be calling the chots for this empty suit mayor.
  • Goldsmith didn't achieve anything - thats why his run for governor was so failed.
    Couldn't fool anyone.
  • Will he cut funding for extra projects completely? Or just temporaraly?
  • I could have been the oponent for Peterson and won this election! This election WAS NOT a vote for Ballard.


    It is so sad to learn of how uninformed the voters of Marion County are. I keep hearing about out of control spending. Um...on what? The City's budget was SLASHED this year. There is a hiring freeze at the City, employees won't be getting raises AGAIN, and the cost of benefits will rise...AGAIN. Otherwise, the big purchase by the City was for PENSIONS for the PD and FD. This was the morally correct thing to do.

    What upsets me the most is the mass transit issue. Ballard DID SAY that Hoosiers love their cars. As the mayor of a mjor US city, Ballard needs to recognize that our quality of life will continue to go down if we continue to rely on the car. This will lead to an even worse environmental score, causing most looking to relocate to bypass Indy and so on and so on.

    Next election, I BEG the voters of Marion County to at least become familiar with the issues instead of trying to send a message.
  • Kyle, the run for Gov. is completely irrelevant with regard to Goldsmith's accomplishments in Indy. If you think for one minute that O'Bannon didn't win by riding the coattails of our most popular Governor Bayh, you are way off base (not to mention it was only a 52% to 47% victory - hardly a landslide). Additionally he lost because he couldn't convince the populace of Southwestern and Northwestern Indiana to cast their votes for an Indy insider - something Mitch WAS able to do (but only after an extremely exhaustive campaign on the road). I could post pages of accomplishments during Goldsmith's terms, but for what, so that you can continue to post unconstructive remarks on the subject of our next mayor???

    But, if you're bored....here's a starting point...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Goldsmith
  • What a good chat.
  • Goldsmith helped exacerbate the city's financial problems
    by borrowing money to fund his building better
    neighborhoods program. He was obsessed with not
    raising taxes. He also was the encouraged the refinancing
    of the Hoosier Dome multiple times during his administration
    (which is why it is still not paid off). He did the same
    thing with respect to many other of the city's obligations
    and extending them for longer periods of time and tying
    up future tax revenue for debt service. He also fought
    the EPA so the city would not have to spend money or
    raise rates to deal with the sanitary sewer overflows.

    He was dragged kicking and screaming into finishing
    the mall. And of course, you can thank Goldsmith every
    time you pay your cable bill and contribute to Conseco
    Fieldhouse and the Simons.

    And let's not forget the no-bid contracts and all of his
    privatization nonsense which was just a way to reward
    his cronies. He cut positions so he could use that money
    to award contracts to supporters.

    And the governor's race was a referendum on his
    mayoralty; remember he didn't even win Marion County.

    By the way, I would trust Rex Early well before I
    would trust anyone associated with Goldsmith.

    And mass transit is a boondoggle waiting to happen.
    This town will not support it and this town can not afford
    it. The number of people light rail will take off the street
    would be minimal at best. It seems that most people
    want mass transit for the cool factor - regardless of
    whether anyone would ride it - and the occassional ride
    to a Colts and Pacers game does not count. You all need
    to realize that this is a city is just a collection of small
    towns and is long way from being a city. Building
    structures and unnecessary infrastructure won't transform
    it and won't transform the residents into urbanites.

    How about we start with fixing the bus system and
    making it more comprehensive and usable - which partly
    entails building sidewalks and bike paths to provide
    connectivity.

    There is plenty of space in Indianapolis proper for all
    of those commuters to live if they are concerned with
    traffic congestion. If we make it harder for the suburban
    areas to cope with their chosen lifestyle instead of bailing
    them out with expensive toys, maybe they will chose
    to move back to Indy when suburban life becomes
    unbearable. Meanwhile, we can be building and
    improving our existing infrastructure that has been
    neglected for decades instead of spending limited
    resources on mass transit that we do not need.
  • One of the hidden outcomes of Goldsmith's privatizations was getting (and keeping) some future pension obligations off the books. That move alone was very worthwhile.

    And it was during a time of declining interest rates that all those bond refinancings occurred...same thing we all did with our home mortgages because it made financial sense.

    I'm not sure how you claim neglected infrastructure at the same time as you criticize the Building Better Neighborhoods program...those bonds paid for the first replacement curbs and sidewalks in a long time in many parts of the city, as well as first segments of the Monon and Canal trails.

    Goldsmith also twisted some arms to get private money into the mall deal.

    Remember Peterson's big bond deal? Anyone remember what Bart paid for the water company? At least he had the good sense not to make it a city bureaucracy.

    Each of the last two mayors did some good in his terms, and neither man is a crook deserving vilification. Both sought out opinions from real people outside the CCB...a good quality in a mayor.

    Let's hope Mayor Ballard is similarly sensible.
  • I'm scared about developement of Indianapolis, especially Downtown with Ballard as mayor. As several have said, this was a vote not FOR Ballard but against property taxes and crime. Property taxes are really out the control of the mayor, and Peterson was on the way to doing something about crime. Indy will regret this election, I predict. And culture and the arts will suffer greatly. It was a sad day.

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