New look for secondary JW hotels

August 7, 2008
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Developers White Lodging and REI Investments have made some changes to their plans for a Courtyard by Marriott and a SpringHill Suites next door to the JW Marriott convention hotel, at the request of city planners. Among the changes: signs now will be individually lettered instead of box-style. They also are requesting a sign on the pedestrian walk over West Street, which will require a variance. The top rendering shows the original version and the two other renderings show some of the adjustments to the facade:

JW Complex IndianapolisJW Complex
                              IndianapolisJW Complex Indianapolis

What do you think? An older post is here.
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  • Meh.

    I don't see much difference in the new renderings. But while I'm writing, why can't we see this kind of ground-level detail of the JW Marriott itself?
  • great, no box style signs, but still a box style design. way to go indy!
  • It's a shame that the Courtyard by Marriott and SpringHill Suites are so mundane.

    White River State Park is home to a collection of expressive, playful, and beautiful structures. I'm referring to the NCAA Headquarters, the Eiteljorg, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indianapolis Zoo, as well as the canal, the landscaped grounds of the park, and White River itself.

    There's no other area like it in the entire city.

    Instead of enhancing the park with a beautiful set of structures and improving its connection to the west side of downtown, we're presented with the visual definition of banality.

    The Courtyard by Marriott and SpringHill Suites are warts on the face of beautiful White River State park.

    Given their size and location, they will negatively impact the quality of the rest of the park.

    And one well-designed glass tower (the JW Marriott) won't make up for that.
  • Huh?

    I don't see much of a difference, except for the entrance canopies. Why can't we see the upper parts of the buildings in these renderings? Is it because the developer hasn't really changed the way the building is going to look?
  • Good question, Rob. The planners also wondered why the renderings left off the top of the buildings.
  • Its a 1960's dormitory. It looks pretty much the same. The building is a box. The facade is both flat and monotonous. Why can't we build better looking buildings? There needs to be some consistency between all the buildings. We have never seen all three of them together.
  • Why do the planners have to wonder why the renderings left off the tops? They should DEMAND to see full renderings. Just like the city should DEMAND to stop construction on the downtown BW3s.
  • I think they added some more lines to the Dryvit.

    Wahoo, only top quality here, world class all the way!
  • Camille,

    Who are you? And from where did you appear? I appreciate your zest, but that's just not the way things are done in Indy. I guess folks could try to change things, if they're into upsetting apple carts and all that hullabaloo.

    Anyhow, I figured that these elevations weren't intended to show any revisions to the plans, but rather just to show the buildings as they will appear during KnoZone Action Days.
  • What a sickening joke. This building is pathetic looking. This just gives me more of a reason why I shouldn't live in Indy because of the mentality I find very lackluster in terms of artistic/architectural statements to the world.
  • Dustin,

    Always negatives, so you don't live here or do? MOVE ON and zip it.
  • The designs aren't good, at all. BUT, I am more concerned with the site layout. They don't appear to be integrated. They could have created a faux grid, or even a campus, but instead opted for the path of least resistence. With tax subsidies and abatements, the public should have the opportunity to weigh in and demand better design. We got it with the main tower, how about with these other two?
  • Gee, sorry Dustin. Don't let the door hit you on the a s s on the way out! Our city is far from perfect, but honestly, I like living here. We've come a long way and I'm sure we'll keep improving. Not sure if we'll ever reach your expectations Dustin, but who cares?

    Just out of curiosity... what city fits your high ideals of artistic/architectural statements? I honestly am curious? What other cities have you lived in?
  • This is a rubber stamp prototype design. The hotel companies save a fortune on architect fees with them. They are fine for highway off-ramps where cornfields used to be, but they don't work very well (or look good) in urban environments.

    The floor plans typically have no relationship to city grids or alleys. The footprints of urban hotels (and apartments) were historically E, H, C or I shaped. This allowed for building up to the property lines while allowing each room to have natural light and fire egress.

    This hotel design does not belong inside the Mile Square. The owner could redesign it, but then hotel guests would have to pay a little more to visit our downtown. And why should tourists have to pay more to stay in a nice looking city when they can pay less and stay in a mediocre looking city?
  • To MDB - its a good thing the building would technically be outside the mile square - but I'd agree its not the prettiest building as proposed.
  • I've got the perfect solution. We'll mandate that every developer use only world class architects(meaning the five or six fashionable architects in the world at this moment) on every building in downtown Indy. Sure, we might not have another building built for the next ten years - but it will be a great one. Oh yeah....It might also be more than incrementally more expensive, and therefore further drive out different classes of people from visiting the city. But it's important that we are touted on the front of every newspaper because of our buildings.

    OR...We could instead liberalize our tax and regulatory system so that we could compete with southern cities in bringing in businesses to the city core, which would therefore bring the money that causes great design to come about in the first place. Having strict design standards leads to increased gentrification in newly redeveloped areas, yes, but also causes a slow down in the demand for property in the affected area as a whole. The result is one area with extraordinarily high property values, surrounded by property with quickly decreasing property values. Market expectations for future use play the predominant role in determining value, activist wanna-be architects and anointed public commentators forcing onerous rules for design leads to market forces looking for other markets with easier points of entry. Or, the suburbs.

    If we look honestly at what the public chooses with the small amount of incentive that voting gives, it is obvious that people with strong economic interest in a project know a lot more what is going on in the market. If there is only a market for two high-end hotels downtown, then forcing the developer to build three will lead to some serious consequences. If the third is of a high-end design on the exterior, but the amenities offered by the chain don't justify the price, then the other hotels will attract that class of business. Meanwhile, the lower-end option will be left with an in-between market and more than likely will have to offer rates lower than are sustainable. This could lead to financial turmoil for the hotelier, and possible the hotel's closure. And then we'd have a beautiful shell of a building. Wouldn't that be grand?
  • Good analysis, Tony. People need to understand the complexity of market forces that lead to investment decisions. It's not as simple as having tougher rules for developers and demanding better design.
  • If someone wants to visit Manhattan, they pay a high price to stay in a hotel. And my understanding /sarcasm/ is that quite a few people are willing to do that./end sarcasm/

    If the downtown Indianapolis market NEEDS a middle cost hotel, why are these developers getting public subsidies?
  • I think what people want is a little creativity. Is it too much to ask for the developer to spend as much on a simple exterior design study as they did on the vintage gouache rendering.

    On a brighter note: We are going to need some good reinforced concrete buildings to implode in 20 years. These two will make excellent candidates. Lots of clear space around them for debris. I could go on and on.
  • Oh darn it! I forgot about all of the windows in the main hotel. We are going to need a lot of plywood to cover those.
  • I will offer my time/expertise to redesign the two structures and the site plan for free!
  • Where's the rest of the building? This is silly. Does the developer/architect think we're a bunch of idiots? Of course, the Mayor's office doesn't care what the citizens think - they won't even answer the phones (see Matthew Tully's column in today's Star). So much for Ballard. I never expected any better.
  • Gee Firewoman and berwickguy, I had no idea my honest straightforward opinions would ruin your day! You two need to learn how to understand how others look at something subjectively as opposed to your own. I lived in Indy for two years (2003 to 2005). I have lived in other cities, much more forward thinking than Indy; (Chicago, San Diego, Phoenix, and now I am in Tucson). I have also visited cities where I do not have to be a resident to understand what goes on in these cities, but I can see much more exciting and interesting values to them than I have found in Indy so far. Some of you people seem to think that Indianapolis is the greatest city in the world. Get over yourselves and face reality. Indy will always become the city where conservatism prevails and boredom comes very quickly.

    You can't honestly say that this hotel proposal is earth shattering in terms of design and statement, because this building is ugly and appears to have already been a part of the downtown landscape since the 1970s.

    Have a great day!
  • It reminds me of a hospital from 1976.
    This is ugly. I've never been a fan of this type of architecture but why don't they just make it glass like the taller one?
    This is really ugly and looks straight out of a suburb.
  • Dustin, your negative comments on Indianapolis were not asked for.
    Every city has its flaws and I don't think people on here are ready to compare Indianapolis to NYC but that doesn't mean that it is somehow a horrible over-conservative endless hole.
    People on here are trying to improve Indianapolis.
  • Government Housing. Uninspired. Cheap looking and really down market. Any building USA.
  • Dustin:

    I've only lived in Indianapolis for a few years and have hardly ever been bored. I was raised in the DC area and have recently lived in Cleveland, Detroit area and Pittsburgh. Indianapolis is by far very affordable and interesting city for it's size. Not to mention it is a city on the upswing as oppossed to most if not all comparable in size midwestern and eastern cities. The job market has remained decent and is exploding culturally. The people are friendly and fairly open. I'm always shocked when I hear the rare person state they are bored here. Aside from maybe mountains or an ocean you would be pressed to convince me there is a huge void of anything in this city.
  • Dustin, I missed you buddy. It's been a while. Look, conservative isn't going to wow people, but conservative has staying power. It generally never goes completely out of style. So when the overnight, upstart, real-estate-boom cities in Arizona go out of style. Indy will still be here.

    I do however agree with you to an extent. The skyline isn't compellingly artistic, it's more 'functional' than anything. Good or bad I too would love to see a more 'sexy' Indy. But it's not a requirement for me to live here and love living here, which I do.

    Peace, JoBu.
  • socrates#1 fan, you are right, no one asked for my negative thoughts. But what is your point anyway? Are you trying to say that people are only allowed to express positive thoughts and not speak their honest thoughts? I think you need to remind yourself that this is not your space. This is public space. This is a place where I find the pleasure in reading on what is going on in Indianapolis, preferably downtown. When I have a feeling that needs to be expressed in an honest manner, I will volunteer it. Whether it is a positive or negative one, it doesn't matter. Obviously it mattered to you because you seem to be authoritative on what is allowed to be said on here. Give yourself a break.
  • Gee I feel special JoBu, just exactly how much do you miss me?

    I disagree with your point of view in terms of conservatism. When it comes to Indianapolis, the conservative viewpoints of the people become so sporadic that it reaches a point of boredom or just a big snore. When it comes to amazing and forward thinking planning, it creates a unique quality about the city, something other cities can't copy.

    Your little snark comment about the overnight, upstart, real-estate-boom cities in Arizona was silly. I don't get your joke. Try a different joke next time please.
  • I’ve only lived in Indianapolis for a few years and have hardly ever been bored. I was raised in the DC area and have recently lived in Cleveland, Detroit area and Pittsburgh. Indianapolis is by far very affordable and interesting city for it’s size. Not to mention it is a city on the upswing as oppossed to most if not all comparable in size midwestern and eastern cities. The job market has remained decent and is exploding culturally. The people are friendly and fairly open. I’m always shocked when I hear the rare person state they are “bored” here. Aside from maybe mountains or an ocean you would be pressed to convince me there is a huge void of anything in this city

    Shane

    I'm glad you really enjoy Indy. Yes, Indy is one of the most affordable cities in the nation and personally I believe it is by far much better than Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh in terms of downtown life. However, you are missing my whole point. I am not saying the entire city itself is a bore. I was talking about a particular aspect of the city's future planning. It has just been an ongoing trend of downtown planning as well as other matters. Aside from the ugly buttpimple quality buildings, the city is WAY WAY far behind other cities when it comes to mass transit. Who in the hell wants to live through the next few years spending more money on gas just to get around when the city could have already implemented an efficient rail system linking the major parts of the city? Downtown to Airport... that is particulary saddening, yet a big embarrassment. How can international travelers or travelers within our country think Indianapolis is impressive when they realize there is no direct rail link to downtown?

    Then again, as I said, I am still waiting...
  • Bob

    I think your opinion rings entirely true. It's sad how most people in here don't get it because they automatically think whatever we say, it hurts their feelings.
  • Maybe CoryW will appeal the Regional Center approval, if and when granted by the City, cause a public hearing of the MDC, and bring his redesigned plans for all to cherish. That would be interesting.
  • This looks pretty much the same as the old design, as far as I can see.

    As for why the public should have input on this, one would think that the $45-65 million in public subsidies that are going to this project entitle the public to a seat at the table.

    I already sketched an outline of what an improved site plan would look like here:

    http://theurbanophile.blogspot.com/2008/01/hotel-mundane-no-more.html

    While these ancillary hotels leave much to be desired, the street level engagement is questionable, and the site plan is less than idea, I think we shouldn't lose site of how far this development has come since the original awful proposal. The main tower is shaping up to be quite nice, if it ends up looking like the renderings. The developers are to be commended on the changes they've made to date. I believe every iteration has been an improvement. It would be wonderful if they could figure out how to get a little bit more creative and address the remaining outstanding problems such as the design of this secondary tower.

    Actually, the street level engagement is the most important, and the most easily and cheaply correctable, item that should be worked on.
  • Dustin-
    There is nothing wrong with being critical.
    However, your negative comments had really little to do with this development and more of just wanted to bicker to something.
    Please, keep this about the development!
  • #16 Tony & #17 TRS -- Since you seem to have a good handle on market forces and how complex it is to have development standards, think you can explain why a WALMART or LOWES in Carmel or Fishers looks like the Taj Mahal compared to the standard WALMART & LOWES designs? I'm sure that development standards have NOTHING to do with that. I'm sure too that those stores aren't too worried about going out of business any time soon.

    Sure, they aren't design award winners necessarily, but it sure does leave a lot to be desired from the same old tired junk that developers regurgitate all over the place. This is a prime example of just wanted some pizzaz in this world class City.
  • socrates#1fan:

    My statements had everything to do with the development. This development speaks volumes of Indianapolis's character, thank you.
  • Dustin, if you don't live here now, and you only lived here for 2 years, and you've lived in 20 other cities much better than Indy, why do you spend all of your time on this blog? What's your attachment to boring ol Indy?
  • indyfan, why are you seriously concerned about why I am on here? Do you not have anything else to worry about? I don't have to answer your curiosity, so go find your own problems please. Thank you.
  • Methinks Dustin is attention starved and this is his way of engaging people. Wouldn't be surprised to find him on blogs all over the country, playing the role of nattering nabob.
  • Methinks Bill is mentally deprived of anything that requires him to make himself feel better other than sit at a computer and poke stupid jokes online. Find something else to do Bill, otherwise I'll have to call your mommy and tell her you're paying for the Internet with her credit card.
  • Too late, Dusty. Mommy already knows.
  • Ah, you must like the punishments then. Every time you do something wrong, she spanks you oh so erotically. Give yourself a break already.
  • I have to say, inspite of the improved renderings of the maintain tower.
    This whole project is still a hatch job to thw west side of downtown.
    I think I finally figured out why the Interconntentail wasn't buitl.
    All he under the table stuff that was going on with ISC would have come to the light of day. Poor Susan Wiliams would have lost her six figure salary. The fact that we are even taling about this development instead of the IC speaks volumes about how easy this city rolls over. The IC was hands down the best idea, prposal on the board.

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  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

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