Group: OneAmerica garage needs retail, better design

July 18, 2012
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OneAmerica parking
                              garageThe city's Regional Center Hearing Examiner last week approved plans for a five- or six-story parking garage at the northwest OneAmerica parking garagecorner of Illinois and New York streets after developer Flaherty & Collins Properties made minor tweaks to its design. The monolithic parking structure serving the OneAmerica Tower would provide just 1,500 square feet of street-level retail space, even less than the giant garages across Illinois Street.

City guidelines say parking garages fronting pedestrian walkways should include “retail shops, restaurants, business services and offices.” Instead, Flaherty and garage designer CSO Architects offered to add additional landscaping and fake storefront windows for an "improved urban streetscape."

(The top image is the original design, and the bottom one is the updated and approved elevation. Click either for a larger version.)

A group of urban policy advocates and bloggers including Eric McAfee, Chris Corr, Graeme Sharpe, Kevin Kastner and Joe Smoker are appealing the July 12 approval, arguing taxpayers footing the bill for the project deserve better. They're asking for the city to do one of two things: Request a redesign of the garage to provide more first-floor retail; or move the garage to the block's interior, leaving the frontage along Capitol Avenue and Illinois Street "open to superior development possibilities in the future."

"The proposed site is within three blocks of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, three blocks from the Canal Walk, and just two blocks from the Statehouse," the group wrote. "This prominent block deserves a level of urban design consideration in accordance with its visibility to motorists and pedestrians."

The new garage would pave the way for an $85 million development set to bring a Marsh store and hundreds of apartments to surface parking lots bounded by Michigan Street, Capitol Avenue, Vermont Street and Indiana Avenue. To incentivize that development, city leaders agreed to contribute $13 million for the garage, which would be owned by OneAmerica. The garage would be built with similar materials as the OneAmerica Tower and include above-ground pedestrian connectors over New York and Vermont streets.

Jim Crossin, Flaherty's director of development, has countered that the purpose of the garage is to serve OneAmerica employees and tenants of the company’s tower. “You can’t escape the fact that it is a parking garage, and some things aren’t achievable,” he said. “By no means is it more than a utilitarian garage, so we think [the design] is appropriate.”

The men appealing the decision note in their letter that the city's Regional Center Design Guidelines won a national award for excellence in planning. "But neither the award nor the guidelines have any palpable meaning if we do not apply them beyond the lowest possible standard."

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  • One Word
    Terrible!
  • UGH
    Garages on both sides of the street with no retail? That will be terrible. Along Illinois would be an ugly ugly site as there is no retail on the east side where the garages are (with the exception of LePeep at the corner). This could become one of the ugliest blocks in the city if they let it continue.
  • They must do better
    This is terrible planning. If we want that area of downtown to grow, we can't fill entire city blocks with a structure that provides no value to nearby residents. This needs retail.
  • we can do better than this
    I often see amazing, location-appropriate parking garages all across the country, and this definitely isn't one of them. Parking facilities don't have to look like this, even for the same price. Perhaps Jim Crossin and Flaherty should get out more or at least move on from the '70s. Indy deserves better for our downtown.
  • Disapprove
    As an urban designer, I have to say this is a slap in the face to the city of Indianapolis and any downtown residents. I expect better than this, and I know if Indianapolis wants to even pretend to compete as a city attracting young professional talent, they should expect better as well (or we will all be shipping out of town to Portland, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, or anywhere with better urban places than this monstrosity)
  • Some Things
    "...Some things aren't achievable." I don't necessarily disagree with this statement but in this instance it doesn't even look like they tried to achieve any of the aims of the Center Regional Plan. If letters of support or petition signatures are need I hope I'll see that come through Urban Indy. Good luck guys and thanks for fighting the good fight.
  • Hire an Architect
    “You can’t escape the fact that it is a parking garage, and some things aren’t achievable,” So why do most other recent parking garages downtown have retail in them? Why does the Cosmopolitan have a parking garage in the middle of the block? Somehow other more enlightened developers and designers were able to make it work here in Indy.
    • Nothing is better than something
      I live just 2 blocks from this proposed development and I personally find the streetscape around the One America Tower to be one of my favorites. That area is entirely devoid of retail but the landscaping offers a pleasing respite from the towering buildings. If you're trying to match the design of the tower you should at least offer the same amount of setback and landscaping. Give something to the people even if it isn't retail. Better yet, it really should be designed to allow retail to be plugged in at some point in the future or even development on top of it. Think of the Regions parking garage, build one of those, and perhaps someday the city will necessitate another tower. Don't build something that will just end up getting torn down when someone has something worthwhile to build there. I know it's probably F&C's fault but come on CSO.
      • Urban Planning Fail
        The garage rendering here is about as brutal as they come. Take a look at a few recent parking garage examples such at IU Methodist or Ivy Tech - they may not be the best but they are certainly better than this, and this is in a much more prominent location. Zero effort has been given to break up the facade here and there appears to be no variation in materials. Concrete, bronze glazing, and dark bronze frames - hello 1965. This looks more in line with something placed in North Korea, not Indianapolis. This is a perfect example of how badly our zoning ordinances need updated, streamlined, and prevent eyesores such as this from being proposed in the first place.
      • OMG
        Why does the City of Indianapolis still allow this horrible architecture downtown. Just when you think things are beginning to change we see this This again is another joke and embarassment. There are plenty of new garages in the City that would have been wonderful at this location. This looks like something built in the 60's. Who is the architect? Talk about monotonous and boring.
      • to RHW
        The Architect is CSO Architects but, frankly, the architect has very little to do with it. If the developer wants retail, the architect will design around first floor retail.
      • To Mark
        I'm surprised CSO even put its name on the elevations.
      • Aweful
        This is horrible development! Thank you guys for challenging this ruling! Hopefully we can get another more appropriate design change from our protests like we did with the JW.
      • Landscape?
        Frank Lloyd Wright famously said "the doctor can bury his mistakes, the architect can only advise his client to plant vines".
      • Come on!
        Okay, we've got garages better than this. It looks like CSO or F&C forgot a revision was due and slapped some trees on it (THAT WILL TAKE YEARS TO FILL OUT PROPERLY!) The new IU Methodist Garage is attractive actually, use that as a model. Even the State Parking garages have some columns and character and depth on the outside. Whoever said its F&C's fault cause of a lack of retail; I don't care if there is NO retail. CSO can break it up. Add charachter. Heck - put up a facade that looks like a streetscape and leave all the windows open for the garage. Get creative guys. This can not be built! And I am all for development of our urban core. Not of crap though. Ratios repeating extended hat entrance way they put on everything now would be better.
      • Bush League
        F & C = Bush League. Can Indy recruit some decent architects? The good ole' boys club always wins out here. Columbus Indiana gets it, but Indy does not.
      • BLIGHT
        Just me it will get built....this is Indy, the brick and stucco and concrete city!
      • BLIGHT
        Just me it will get built....this is Indy, the brick and stucco and concrete city!
      • Details
        Cory, can you tell us more about the appeal process? Is there going to be a hearing?
        • MDC Hearing
          Indy -- As the garage was already approved by the Regional Center Hearing Examiner, we have appealed to the Metropolitan Development Commission. The hearing will be August 1st at 1pm in the Public Assembly Room on the 2nd floor of the City-County Building. We encourage all those that are available to attend in order to show the MDC that there is broad-based support for upholding our Regional Center Design Guidelines.
        • Sure, if I say something NOW...
          Then I'll be attacked for it. So, I'll just sit idly by and laugh at the fact that Indy continues to inspire me with all these new ideas and developments... oh wait... I'm delusional...
        • Ha ha ha
          THIS is exactly why I consider Indy... YET AGAIN... a joke. :)
          • Indy deserves better
            Indy deserves better URBAN design. In order to compete with other Cities (and surrounding suburbs) for jobs and people, the City must strive to offer an urban environment that is walkable, inspiring, and engaging. How can we compete with other places if we continue to allow developments in PRIME locations that completely ignore the very design guidelines that were established to create a unique urban setting? If we really want to be considered a "world class city", we need to start by demanding better from developments that will shape and impact the City's built environment for years to come.
          • Its funny how...
            They plan these hearings when most people are at work and cannot attend. It truly shows how much they care about public input. What a disgrace!
          • F&C just slapped Indy in the face.
            This is nothing short of a slap in the face to downtown Indy from F&C. If they're not willing to put effort into building an interesting streetscape and pedestrian atmosphere in downtown Indy, they shouldn't be allowed to build. It'll be a huge shame if the city allows this.
          • MDC hearing
            Chris Corr, thank you for the additional information. I do agree with Ramz that it is a disgrace that these hearings are when most people cannot attend. I very much would like to attend but due to my limited amount of vacation time left this year, I cannot. For as much noise as being made about this on this great blog, I just have a feeling that nothing will change with the design since the greater public is not even aware of the awful design. Cory, is there anyway a story about this can be written in the main IBJ instead of just a blog post?
          • I quit
            That's it. I'm moving. There really is no hope when our suburb is run by these people. Way to go IndyNoPlace
          • Shameful
            It's shame how this city settles for crap design like this. It's clear that our leadership has no vision by the way they allow monstrosities like this to be built.
          • Lord...
            ... I am no more thrilled with this design than most of you, but MAN, some of you posters are DRAMA QUEENS. If you don't like the design of this project, or the design of anything else built in the city (apparently), how 'bout you do something more than type criticism of the city YOU call home? Get up off your butts, push away from your keyboards, and make your way to one of the meetings. Be useful!
          • Marshall
            Hmmm. And what time is that 'public' meeting Marshall? Maybe that's our point. Do you work for the city? Guess what, I don't. Fortunately, I'm busy working 13-15 hour days running my own small, independent business. I may not have the opportunity to do much more than type my opinion on this blog...but I'm happy to be able to do this, thanks to URBAN INDY. I feel the problem lies with our city leadership and government: clearly no vision for urban design (hell, can't think beyond road construction for fat vehicles!) but more so, these people who sit in their sterile office trying to justify their jobs on a daily basis ARE the city officials with the time and power to actually do something---at least semi mediocre! So Marshall, if you are content w the most horrific crap developed in our what---'World Class City'---Well good for you. Get out much? No way can we let George Ballard's (who's our mayor?) administration impact our city negatively. This is why the country laughs their ass off at us, folks. Once again...way to go.
          • They can do better...
            This is horrible... If Indy is trying to host another Superbowl and transform from "Naptown to Supercity" why are they building stuff like this? This garage is the definition of "NAPtown." “You can’t escape the fact that it is a parking garage, and some things aren’t achievable.” Oh really? Look at some of these... https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSd2aAGoOOIhXSI62vSuTe9dqDc0qBPO-2OBfF3BP9HRP-tst2x8Q https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSU6ECE-TWBM8-M4spyE_DFNLLqJnSh7IP4IANOkAKWxoU-BQLikg https://encrypted-tbn2.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQph-5yDCCa2CmW1U28yrB2WiIJ0HfCxt2U62_I5Q7YJa_x_0DS https://encrypted-tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcROjIkqINzM6-zbhfu_C0_PaQEL2tNjzc4soQEYmDa2y-L3Pmeh
          • Needs Redesign/Retail
            Are there any Architects or Designers on the Regional Center Hearing Board? If so, how would they let this pass without some modifications? From a business standpoint, that area seems void of quality Retail which could be featured for an entire block if incorporated correctly. Not ideal that's for sure.
          • Garage Design
            Those 4 image links above show true creativity and design for garage. Thanks for posting those. We need the designers to see those. Someone should send an email with those to them.
          • Architecture matters
            As everyone here seems to know - architecture matters. Especially in a city with the geographical challenges Indy faces. It is certainly disconcerting that a "director of development" of such a prominent urban project - is so wildly short-sighted and lacking in imagination. Don't give up though! Indy should actually be striving to make its name through great architecture. Here are some more photos of modest, but at least interesting parking garages. http://www.geargather.org/profiles/blogs/why-can-t-they-all-be-beautiful-cool-parking-garages
          • Is it really that hard?
            Why is it so hard for Jim Crossin to envision a 5 story residential element around a parking garage that sits in the middle of the lot? Lack of parking space to serve multiple entities? It's a five story structure vs a sprawling parking lot. Downtown needs residents for any new development to work, naturally. The commercial/retail space should be planned for the future but not necessary for the first 5 years. There is plenty of space in that block to hide the garage in the middle. Maybe Jim should look at the Cosmopolitan(not great, but good for Indy) and take some notes. Or better yet, maybe he should travel to cities comparable or smaller than Indy and realize what an embarrassment this development is to our community. It's amazing Jim made the above comment and, along with CSO ENGINEERS(no way I'll call them architects), put their name on this. What a joke.
            • Sign
              Why not take OneAmerica's most known feature - the ridiculous signboard - and use it to help this not be a boring garage? Indy could use a large, "Times Square" style sign. It could display the weekly corny phrase and be used for other purposes as well. It would add minimal cost, which could be recouped through advertising or rentals.
            • Make it Green
              If they can't improve the appearance and utility of the structure otherwise, put a park on top of it.
            • Is there demand for retail space?
              While the revised plan is an improvement it would seem that they could go further to break up the facade. I do wonder if the economics of addtional retail space are playing into the discussion. AUL owns the office building to the north of this project as has had some trouble landing high quality retail tenants. Maybe they are concerned that the investment required to build out these spaces would not provide a resonable return. I would like to see them do something but I am not in favor of false fronts to make it look like retail.
            • Did You Know?
              "Why does the Cosmopolitan have a parking garage in the middle of the block? Somehow other more enlightened developers and designers were able to make it work here in Indy." F&C did the Cosmopolitan. Maybe they're more enlightened than you thought.
            • Did You Know?
              "Why does the Cosmopolitan have a parking garage in the middle of the block? Somehow other more enlightened developers and designers were able to make it work here in Indy." F&C did the Cosmopolitan. Maybe they're more enlightened than you thought.
            • Jims firm developed the cosmo
              It would be interesting to see how many spaces would be lost by wrapping this project with residential. Please note that FC developed the cosmo so I would imagine that they would have a pretty good idea of what it would take. Please also keep in mind that the reason for this project was to free up parking which currently resides on surface lots in order to build a Marsh store. While it would be nice to have addtional residential units they would increase the need for parking as the residents would need someplace to park their cars.
              • Line It with Townhomes!
                While the location seems that it begs for higher density residential development, that would require a lot of parking spaces for the new residents in addition to all the relocated One America parking spaces. To keep this from being an eyesore, and actually enhance the streetscape, the garage should be wrapped in walk-up townhomes 2.5 - 3 stories tall. Check out Neighborhood Launch in Columbus, Ohio to see how nice of an impact this type of development can make on the streetscape. The resulting residential density would be quite low, so fewer spaces would have to be added to accomodate the residential units. This would be better then having vacant retail space tucked under a brutal ugly parking garage like where LePeeps is located. Not every street in downtown needs retail. Not even Manhattan is developed in that manner. It's perfectly fine to have some street level residential scattered here and there.
              • Chicago signs him can play
                I read this site. In this site has been discussed in terms of parking. Parking must be reserved for separate wake. The people do not have any problem. We need to tell people about it. So people can follow it. Chicago signs him can play an important role. read more.
              • Really?
                Then why do you continue to live here?

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