City gaining one paved parking lot, losing another

November 19, 2010
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MSA parking lot plansAs parking lots go, it will be one of the city's nicest. Perimeter landscaping. Tree islands to break up 354 spaces. Smart light fixtures. But the new pavement proposed for the former home of Market Square Arena also is an admission of failure. Despite dozens of proposals from private developers and the best efforts of two mayoral administrations, the roughly five acres where MSA sat until 2001 will remain a parking lot. The city requires parking lots be paved, but for years officials made exceptions for the MSA lots owned by the Capital Improvement Board, hoping to avoid the expense of paving a lot targeted for redevelopment. "However, since it is apparent that development of the site is uncertain for the foreseeable future, the lots should be paved and striped in accordinance with the ordinance requirements," the planning department has decreed. The CIB won a final extension this month, allowing the lots to remain unpaved through June 2011. Paving is set to begin in March, at a cost of up to $800,000. By then, if all goes as planned, workers will be ripping up a giant surface parking lot just three blocks away for the North of South project.

  • Cultural Trail
    I don't appreciate that, of all the perimeter on these parking lots, they chose to leave the entrances on Alabama, causing unnecessary conflict with Cultural Trail users. I realize that's where the entrances are now, but that doesn't make it wise. The reason for paving these lots is that they expect the land to be undeveloped for quite a while, which should justify the cost of moving the entrances away from the Cultural Trail.
    • What Users?
      You've actually seen someone using the Cultural Trail? Now THAT's a news story...
      • CT
        really TJ? please educate yourself before making such a ludicrous comment.
      • Better to wait for the right development than to force the wrong one in there. I would rather live with parking lots for 5 years than a bad development for 50.
      • Sweetheart Deals Again
        Ballard will put up parking meters there for his cronies that will accept credit cards. Is it no wonder Ballard announces this after his sweetheart deal? This is a GOP plan for economic development, putting people to work again, just a plain ole parking lot except for the sweetheart deal made with the landscaper.
        • People there all the time
          I see people of the Cultural trail all the time. The trail is a great thing for Indy. Don't knock it!
        • Confused
          I just don't understand why the right development can't be found for the former MSA property.
        • Huh?

          Give it up, the anti Ballard decathalon you're on. He's not the Sultan making decisions by himself.

        • Brian,

          There is a recession on, where very few projects are being funded, let alone a project that will run well into the 100's of millions of dollars.

          Expect to see a projet there within 5 years. Credit markets need to loosen up.
        • Bigger MSA Problem
          I think one of the biggest problems with building something of substance on the former MSA site is its location. Sure, I'd love to see some 20-30 story mixed-use buildings there, perhaps with some condos and apartments, and a nice grocery store (Target, e.g.). But who wants to live so close to the jail? Who wants to sip coffee on their balcony overlooking prisoners? We need to move the jail out of our downtown core so that when this recession is over and our credit markets loosen, the MSA lots can be developed and expand our downtown free from the negative impression a jail sends.
          • Where Would You Move It?
            Ben, it's very easy to say, "we need to move the jail out of our downtown core," but it is quite another thing to find an area outside of downtown willing to accept the county jail. Look at all the problems the city has had with just trying to move a few courts into outlying areas, even though the areas suffer from economic blight and don't have particularly powerful neighborhood associations. It is not only urban dwellers in high-rise condos who don't wish to live close to the jail. No one in any part of the city wants to have their residence or business next to the jail. Also, the city's finances are strained and it doesn't have the money to fund the cost of moving the jail and courts. So, I think people are just going to have to come up with some redevelopment plan for the old MSA site that is compatible with having the jail next door.
          • Near jail? who cares?
            Ben - really? Living near the jail has no bearing on any area development. It's just another brick building. I live 1/2 block away and don't even realize the jail is there.
          • Tree Islands
            The tree islands don't sound like the best idea from a crime/safety perspective.
            • MSA site re-use
              I still maintain that the proper use of the former MSA site is a single, consolidated Indianapolis Public School - grades Pre-K - 12. maybe 25 - 30 stories high, covering both blocks - but with Market Street open, just as it was for MSA, where the buses could unload out of the weather, sort of. Just think of all the money IPS could save by not maintaining all those buildings... especially the Civil-War era buildings at Tech, and the not much newer ones at Howe...

              Some floors could be built with 15-foot ceilings for gyms, and the high school athletics could cut a deal with CIB to use Conseco and/or Lucas for IPS home games, for example.

              Heck, they could even move the executive offices from the Walnut Street building to the penthouse...
            • Tom,

              A couple of issues. Cost is still an issue. The several 100 million plus it would take to build something that big would give IPS plenty of money to update its existing schools. Bussing kids from all over Indy to Downtown would be horrendous in both the cost of fuel, number of busses and the amount of time kids have to ride those busses. I am guessing some would be on 2 hours plus a day.

              Safety would be a major issue. How long would it take for a terrorist to figure they could kill 10,000 kids with a truck load of explosives driven under the building?

              in an era where all data shows smaller schools are better, we would want one giant school? bad idea from an education standpoint. And what about neighborhood schools? Neighborhood schools are important for neighborhood stability as well as better for children.

              Having 5,000 workers living and working in a giant building at that location is great for downtown businesses. Not so much for having 5,000 kids. No money and nothing to do but to loiter and cause troubles.

              I give you credit for thinking outside the box, but too many negative issues.
            • Jail's Not Moving
              If you want to move the jail, you have to move the courts as well. Having the jail close to court is critical. Otherwise, you'd spend a fortune transporting prisoners back and forth, and at the same time you'd up the safety risk for escaping. The estimates for a new court complex were around $200 million, I think. Add a new jail complex to that and you're probably pushing 3/4 of a billion dollars or higher. Where's that money going to come from, and where are you proposing it be built? Franklin Township?

              Besides, I'd be shocked if anyone at, say, the Packard can even see a prisoner in the jail since the windows are so tiny. It's not like there's a "yard" on the street, or they're walking them in OJ's across Washington to the CCB.
            • CCA
              let's bring in Corrections Corporation of America to bring immmigrant prisoners
            • Simon
              This would have been a great location for Simon corporate HQ and as an anchor for other residential and commercial development.
            • Maybe move it...
              Maybe we could move the prison complex out towards the airport, perhaps where the old terminal is. And we wouldn't need to move all of the courts, or transport prisoners back-and-forth to the CCB. We could simply have the majority of the criminal courts included in the new justice complex. Only the truly large cases would we need to move to the current courts. And as for cost, I tend to think that having a fully-taxable property on that entire city block (not to mention the MSA site) would pay for the shift in locations. Just a thought.
            • Build Annex
              Since no private money is forthcoming for a project sandwiched between Jails: Isn't the location in question the very spot where an expansion of the C/C building should be? Including Court Rooms,the Feds & State should chip-in since all criminal transactions pass through the doors of this public facility. Underground passages would connect east and west-one for incarcerated, the other for food and other services. Design and build funding could include a combination of monies in proportion to which each entity is served: Fed/State/local. (since the state likes to manage Marion County projects anyway) We would then have access to Security Agency $$. Is no one at our County or State Government actively applying for grants? Lets be aggressive in a quest to fill in this void with the practical solution.
            • Trees breed crime?
              Because criminals grow on trees?
            • Sidewalks
              The Cultural Trail is nothing more than an expensive sidewalk winding through town. The people on the trail are going from point A to B, not making some culturally-based sojourn. Wake up.
            • Finally
              Finally, Mark, idyllic indy, and especially Wm Schu get it right! The site has been in wait for a new Jail-Police-Courts building since the demo of the MS a decade ago! The CC building will then be used for it purpose of government services, not a ultra secure fortress for lawyers, judges, police and criminals...not to mention the entourage of guest visiting the courtrooms to see Johnny sentenced again. The glorified sidewalk will work its way wherever without causing it's occasional users any problems. Actual urban life is a cultural expereince!

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