The other convention hotels

April 29, 2008
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Convention Hotel ComplexA 1,000-room JW Marriott convention hotel will anchor the $425-million hotel complex planned for the southwest corner of West and Washington streets. But it won't be the project's only attraction. A secondary hotel building along Washington Street will be one of the city's largest hotels in its own right. Plans call for a Courtyard by Marriott with 254 rooms and a SpringHill Suites with 196. This brand-new rendering, from developers White Lodging and REI Investments, shows the view from White River State Park. (The 34-story JW is outlined in gray.) Construction is scheduled to begin this summer for a target opening of March 2010. Plans also call for conversion of the high-rise portion of an existing Courtyard hotel into a Fairfield Inn & Suites.
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  • Yahoo! Super sized versions of suburban interstate exit hotels.

    Neat.
  • Not impressed at all. Like Peter said, this looks like an interestate exit hotel. Much like the Dora properties over by the Luke. What a shame.

    It would have been nice to at least try to have some form of cohesiveness with the JW. But this just looks like a tacked on box to the glass covered JW.

    I also would have preffered this to be a Renaisannce as the original plans called for rather than a SpringHilll and Courtyard.
  • Why couldn't they just use an all glass facade like the JW? It would complement it MUCH better and look halfway decent! What a shame, I'm quite disappointed.
  • Jesus....did they blow their architecture budget on the JW-M or something?
  • If they all has the same architecture, why would people pay more to stay in the JW. A lower priced hotel must look like a lower price hotel. I notice most of you criticize about 90% of the projects. If they're not built to be profitable they won't be built at all. Every addition to basic utility costs money.
  • I think it's an example of vomit excreted from the JW...
  • Since I already love the current JW style, I just don't understand how the same developer should find it necessary to just slap an ugly building like this? This is downtown... Peter, you have a valid point, it does look like something you see right off the interstate. My initial thought was it looked like part of Methodist Hospital...
  • c'mon now, people. nothing sets the mood like sitting outside of a springhill suites/marriot courtyard. i mean, doesn't anybody else see that couple in the rendering making out under the tree?
  • Looks like a new dorm at IUPUI.
  • Have any of you people ever built anything?? You don't build for the sake of building. White Loging is a for profit business. Think of spending your own hard earned money when belly aching about the desgin of a building. Do any of you ever think about cost and what that does to the return on investment??
  • I have to wonder if you people complained at the design of the Westin and Marriott downtown. They really aren't any more architecturally striking or different than this design. Sure, it is not as nice as the JW, but it is not meant to be.

    I sometimes thing this blog is filled with frustrated, wannabe architects...
  • This is not even mediocre architecture. This is horrible. Why does Indianapolis keep doing this crap.
  • As someone else mentioned...this would look decent as a dorm tower for iupui. I hope the final colors go well with the design of the JW. Anyone know the height of this structure? the jw is 373'
  • It looks like a cheap copy of the University Place Hotel at IUPUI minus the conference center and food court.

    I would think most frequent business travelers would choose the University Place Hotel, Conrad, or Dora Brothers hotel in the area instead of a drab chain hotel of standard sleeping rooms with little if any common space, meeting rooms, or amenities.

    The staggered room price points and amenities between the three hotel complex won't matter if travelers are finding higher level non Marriott accommodations elsewhere for the same or better price.

    This project holds great promise, if the entire hotel campus is made unique and compelling as a destination, and each property beats local rivals in their class on VALUE ADDED, not price.
  • Amen to Mark, Big Daddy, and Nick. And actually, this will probably end up looking more like the Simon headquarters than a suburban hotel. The colors are those used quite frequently downtown, and it is actually quite generous with glass for a lower-end hotel. I doubt this will be made of PCB like a suburban hotel, actually the gradient pattern looks like it may be brick or stone - definitely a luxury on a sub-$100 a night room downtown. I know it hard to look at a beautiful piece of architecture like the JW and then look at a more standard building with no particularly inspiring architectural qualities and love it, but it was no doubt important for the developers to maintain a distinction between the high-end and low-end concepts. And as said above, these hotels are built for profit and therefore have certain cost constraints.

    Overall, the design is not exactly inspiring, but at least we can see that there is not going to be ground level parking fronting the street here, so that is reassuring. The Dora project by the Luke is awful mainly for its suburban parking lot and lack of interaction with the street that it fronts. We don't get that here, and that is the major plus. The colors are only this drab sand and grey due to the drab colors that are common in downtown Indy, and people like many of the commentators here clamoring for developers to harmonize with the existing built environment. New Urbanism is an ideology of development that has quite a few good points, but asking for it to be taken whole at all times will lead to frustration and a rather bland built environment.
  • Nick, I agree 100% with you.
  • Wow, I can't believe how accepting of this garbage some of you are. The Marriott and Westin in downtown are horrible and this building is even worse.

    It would not have cost dramatically more to design a building that complimented the JW-M design by curving along the bend of Washington St. at this point. They could have even kept their stupid loading loop by putting it on the inward side of the building.

    And that's just one idea I thought of in like 5 minutes.
  • Unique building design is not always more costly. The building even with the use of different materials still looks like a 60's HUD project. Westin has several designs, one a loft type building that seems very urban. The building form and design needs to be more unique and urban. I think the setback is why it looks like a university building type since it does not come out to the street. Can the city make suggestions on improvement?
  • Looks like a hospital! I will say though, that many of our peer cities have the same type of buildings for the same type of use. Charlotte has a number of suburban/interstate exit style hotels in their CBD.
  • Appears that many of the rooms sandwiched between these buildings will not be very desirable since they will be peering into each others windows or a brick wall.

    No connected walkway to the JW convention center?

    Common underground parking?

    No common loading docks?
  • It took them what, 3 or 4 revisions to get the JW right? With 2 or 3 more revisions of this at least we may have a good looking college dorm...
  • Wow, so many people complain about every single building that gets proposed. Why can't we just be happy that we live in a city that is actually building things when other cities are sitting idle. I think these buildings look fine for their purpose and for the market they will serve!
  • ...And Herwilso, so many more people accept all the mediocre crap that is built in our city.
  • As expected, this rendering shows the most flattering view of the building, which appears to be from the northwest, perhaps, at the end of the canal. Imagine looking south across Washington Street at this, or worse yet, while traveling east on Washington across the river. You'll see a BLANK CONCRETE WALL (presumably with a stairwell inside), protruding out from a wider blank wall. But wait, there's more. As if it couldn't get worse, you'll see not one, BUT TWO PLASTIC BOX SIGNS attached to the top of the wall. Nothing says cheap and ugly like an internally lit up box at the top of a blank wall.

    At this point, I really don't care whether the primary material is glass, brick, stone, or papier mache, just please give us a site layout that is complementary to at least one, if not all of the surrounding streets. Walk around downtown and try to find another hotel, or other building, that features a stairwell appendage protruding out toward a street. I would suggest wearing good walking shoes, because you might be out there awhile.

    To those critical of the people on here that would like a better project, please remember that WE ARE PAYING FOR THIS. It doesn't seem like too much to ask for a development that serves the public interest (aside from just being a large hotel) when tens of millions of tax dollars are financing the project.
  • I agree that the building needs to look like it at least fits in with the development of the JW around it. You can still have a building that uses the same envelope materials (the same glass and stone) as the JW but the inside can be entirely different. Just like the 5/3rd Building. It compliments the other tower, is shorter, and each floor on the inside is entirely different from the one above it.

    I think a re-design is in order. Plus, the views of the breathtaking....other wing of windows reminds me of Forest or Briscoe at IU. I'll rent a room there please!
  • Who here has tried to get a block of rooms for family or friends in one of the downtown hotels on a peak week-end (race, B10 tournament, height of wedding season, etc.)? There is a glaring need for reasonably priced hotel rooms downtown. The fact that people appear wanting to kill a viable and needed project because the building doesn't look good eough seems like a lot of elitist ignorance.

    Design is one component of a project, and certainly an important one. But it should never trump the economic function of the development. Here, we have a much needed project that will contribute to the living, breathing city that is Indianapolis. It provides affordable rooms, within walking distance of the mall and most downtown restaurants. It is absolutely necessary to keep the convention business we have, and to take advantage of the additional convention space coming on line soon.

    A city is made by people and money, and developmet brings both. Trying to kill viable projects because you don't like the way they look is a disservice to this city.

    Not trying to tick everyone off, as I agree with a lot of the constructive comments. I too would like to see some of them incorporated. But reading Ablerock's comment that we accept mediocre crap really bothered me. I accept development that stimulates my local economy, increases the tax base (and I know there's property tax abatements, but more people spend more money downtown and we tax sales, restaurants and hotels), and provides services needed to the community. I don't want to nix a project that serves a purpose because it isn't pretty enough. That's not accepting mediocre crap, that's understanding that in the real world, people and money are what matters.
  • Well said, Levi.
  • Levi...

    I'm sorry my comment bothered you, but what I said is true: Indianapolis is continually getting bent over aesthetically for the sake of economic development.

    And you're right, people do matter. But doesn't their quality of life matter as well? Isn't the appreciation of art and beauty part of what makes us human? Or do we just work, eat, and drive? When did we lose our connection to the built environment? When did we forget the impact that our surroundings have on us? When did we lose our sense of excellence? We are the ones who live here, who have to look at these buildings day-in and day-out, not the developers. Does anyone really think our welfare is anywhere on their list of priorities? That they're doing this to improve our city?

    If there is a market to build these structures, if there is money to be made from our collective wallets, then the city needs to exercise some backbone and push for more excellent, compelling architecture. They need to do it for all of us. Just having a hotel that serves a purpose doesn't cut it in the rest of the world. If, as you say, money and people are what matters, than we need to get a bit more competitive. The rest of the world, that next-level city that we aspire to, is running laps around us when it comes to architecture.

    Architecture matters. If you don't understand that, you haven't traveled enough, or been paying attention to what goes on anywhere else in the world.

    Developers want to build here. It is not random, there are reasons for it. We have every right as a city to demand more sophisticated architecture. The developers will do it because there is money to be made. They won't do it of their own accord, because their motivation is financial, not the improvement of of Indianapolis.

    It seems that some people's attitude towards development is one of desperation. C'mon in! Do whatever you want! Just don't leave! Please don't leave! We need you! Build whatever you want!

    No one is saying we should nix projects. We want to see them improved. We are trying to elevate our collective standards. We want a beautiful city.

    My standards for what architecture in Indianapolis should look like are set by the best buildings in the greatest cities of the world: Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, London, New York, etc.

    What are your standards?
  • Don't misconstrue, Levi. No one is asking for this not to be built.

    This is a design issue. When $425M is being spent -- $50M from public subsidy -- the additional cost of decent design is insignificant and should be assumed.
  • This hotel campus has such a promising future.

    They just need to invest the money necessary for a 50+ year investment in a prime location located between the White River State Park and the extended convention center/baseball park. The concentration should be on the mix of amemities with complementary designs, facades, and layouts instead of short term thinking of throw away buildings, cheapest price points, and fastest return on investment.

    They should drop the Springhill Suites and replace it with a Residence Inn/Marriott ExecuStay concept since it would duplicate the Courtyard concept.

    JW Marriott with its convention meeting space and luxury amenities with the highest pricing, Courtyard with it suites and complementary happy hour with medium pricing, and Residence Inn with its small kitchens and extended stay amendities with medium pricing for longer periods of time would be a great product mix making this campus a destination in itself.

    Clearly the Courtyard on the northwest side of Indianapolis with its Spanish facade, all suites room layout, and amenities is a great example of what could happens with the other two Marriott hotels beside the luxurious JW Marriott convention hotel.
  • Yeah, it seems like that if there's going to be a huge hotel next to one of our state parks - then maybe it should look better than this.

    I understand that design costs more and all that -but you're not building a dinky hotel amongst a bunch of other hotels like at keystone at the crossing.

    You're building a huge hotel to compliment our state's only urban state park. It needs to look like it compliments it, otherwise it'll be an eyesore. If you want to put your commodity in one of the nicer parts of downtown, then make it look nice - otherwise, go save money and build it by the airport.
  • Adam........the NW side Courtyard was built as a La Quinta.......it was rebranded a few years ago
  • This looks like a 1960s-era college dorm on any campus in America.
  • Wow more bland White/mondane hotels in a PRIME spot. Wake-up Indy !
  • While the design appears to not be a hit by posters here, do consider the side investment that is made possible by the Stadium/Conv Ctr project. While I am usually not a huge fan of government tax as the source of a project like this, the billions of dollars in other developments need to be attributed directly to current Stadium project.

    But yeah, they could have made some facade upgrades. Keep commenting on it and hopefully Marriott listens and makes some changes.

    Is that the best you can do Marriott? For a downtown location on the same parcel of another massive Marriott, wouldn't you want to spice it up just a little?
  • I can safely say that the majority of us in this conversation agree that the proposed Courtyard Hotel is bland and ugly. Some of you made good points referencing larger cities. Of course Indy is nowhere compared to these larger cities BUT, Indy CAN do this. Use more creativity and attitude. Those are the two things this city is lacking. Seemingly, everything else is regarded based functionality and purpose, that's it. I can't say how many times I have been bored with that concept, and to this day, the trend still exists. I can envision the JW Marriott and the Courtyard Hotel complementing each other real well. Why not build a tall slender tower for Courtyard and a shorter tower for the other but with kick in the architecture? Geesh, use the Scottish Cathedral for inspiration, I can imagine a lot of Gothic styles incorporated into modern architecture. It's clearly apparent that this hospital looking building was executed with no creativity and artistic taste. Sad...
  • Please amend my comments to reflect that the low budget Fairfield Inn by Marriott with its minimal amenities should be replaced with a medium priced Residence Inn/Marriott ExecuStay with its extended stay amenities, not the Springhill Suites considering that the it and the Courtyard are both offered in the same building.

    Leave the low budget accomodations to a less desirable location downtown that is not getting $60 million of taxpayer subsidies.
  • If you want to see some innovative architecture in hotels go to Vegas.
    They're all fighting to be seen there. I think they're all fighting to
    look the same here. Indianapolis mentality.
  • You have a valid point Matthew. But when it comes to Las Vegas, it's media and consumer driven. Indianapolis as a city should be culture and art driven, which is what the architecture of Indy's buildings are lacking...
  • What building is sandwched between the two highrises? It looks like one of the existing buildings. That looks ridiculous. Is this correct? Boy I sure wish we could get the Intercontinental back. I know everybody keeps saying that. We have our selection committee to thank for that one.
  • Couldn't the facade ATLEAST complement the revised JW design?
  • Here is a link to the plot plan for the project, along with some renderings.

    http://theurbanophile.blogspot.com/2008/01/hotel-mundane-no-more.html
  • Robert you are correct that the old Courtyard building (new Fairfield Inn) will be located between the new Courtyard and the JW Marriott tower.

    Here is a link to the site plan for the project along with some renderings.

    http://theurbanophile.blogspot.com/2008/01/hotel-mundane-no-more.html
  • There are some very educated and productive suggestions on here that I would love to see directed to the Mayors office. Complaining amongst ourselves (of which I'm guilty) will surely not accomplish anything, but for those of you that live in Indy and pay taxes there, you have every right to voice your displeasure with the low standards of this portion of the project.

    Please do!
  • Just plan bad. This is awful and has no business in the downtwon area.
    There isn't anything about this project that is being done right.
    All this design can be found at any interstate exit ramp.
  • Not that I find the design of the smaller hotel to be all that inspiring, but will one of you geniuses name a SINGLE suburban interstate exit ramp in the Indianapolis area with a 16-story hotel that looks anything like this? While you are at it, name a major American city that doesn't have hotels similar or WORSE than this in THEIR downtown. Forget the fact that this building is only a small part of a much larger project which will CERTAINLY have a focal point in the distinctive JW tower. This is a BUDGET hotel. If it were to be built with the same features / finishes as the JW, for example, higher construction costs = higher room rate = no longer a budget hotel. What is so hard to figure out about that? I don't know what architecturally superior planet some of you people live on, but if you think Indianapolis is the only city where buildings like this get built, you not only are living out of this world, you're living out of your minds, as well.
  • And if you guys are going to do nothing but complain about the design of a BUDGET hotel, will you at least give us some original material? I don't know how many times I read the
  • .... interstate exit ramp sentiment on this thread. (that's how my post should have ended)
  • Well said Really.
  • Why are they reusing the Courtyard at all, that hotel has never looked good, and what happens 20 years down the road when the courtyard is all drap and not structurally safe and its attached to the JW complex, what happens then?

    Also why can't this new hotel at least have some shape to it, say maybe a half moon or something that would compliment the curve of the JW?

    And It would be cool to curve the hotel that is suppose to reuse the couryard as well and then sort of step them down in height, with the JQ being the tallest and then the middle hotel (Fairfield Inn?) being middle height. And then the shortest as the Courtyard by and SpringHill Suites building.

    With all of them curving this would add cohesiveness, and a more distictive design, and also it would be great to have a combined underground parking lot for all 3 hotels and this convention center, and be sure that there is proper access from all three hotels to this convention center and to the skywalk, as if this hotel is not connected to the skywalk directly it will be less desireable, and will not be considered a part of this complex, you can only call it a complex if everything matches and is cohesive in form and function.
  • For those who are criticizing people for critiquing a building:

    Why do you oppose improving the design?

    Why do you oppose making something better and more unique?

    What is wrong with improving the visual relationship of the 3 hotels that make up this complex to make them more harmonious?

    Do you think that if we ask someone to improve a building's design that the city's economy is going to fall apart and that no one will ever build here again?

    What is wrong with asking for more-beautiful buildings?

    Why do you assume that good design = more $?

    What is wrong with asking that those who wish to build in our state's capital city consider the aesthetic impact of their structures a bit more?

    Do you want to live in a city known for its excellence or its mediocrity?
  • Ablerock, this is excellent. This project has so much potential to be a signature piece of architecture, but it has fallen short. Keepting that existing building sandwiched between the two towers is ridiculous. Why? There is no significance in keeping that ugly, cheap looking, dated building within this complex. Come on Indianapolis, we are trying to be a world class city.
  • Excellent posts, Ablerock.

    Maybe the issue is that we *don't* need a BUDGET hotel downtown. Don't we aspire to be a city where people so want to visit that they are willing to pay a premium to stay overnight? Or willing to spend a small amount of time researching to find a small local bed and breakfast or inn to stay at instead of a taxpayer funded/corporate chain tower?
  • ablerock gets it. What's more, the fact that the city is pumping something like $45-65 million into this project, plus giving the developer the exclusive and official convention center ballroom (i.e., a valuable concession), that gives the public a seat at the table.

    Let's not go over the top with bashing, however. The developers of this project did two design iterations on the main tower, arriving at something that is pretty good looking. This shows their willingness to listen.

    This is a highly prominent site, very visible from WRSP, etc. I think there are ways to greatly improve the design (and the site plan as I noted earlier), without going crazy on price.

    Good design does not necessarily mean expensive design.

    This hotel render is far from the most offensive piece of architecture downtown. However, there is certainly room for improvement. If you're listening Whiteco and REI, please put the same amount of care into the ancillary structures, the site plan, and the 360 relationship of the complex to the streets as clearly went into the main tower.
  • Donna, the idea that we don't need budget lodging options downtown is ridiculous. I spit up my drink a little when I read your post.......
  • Call me crazy because I've never designed and built a convention hotel complex, but I'm pretty confident that the plans could be revised to not have two drab blank walls protruding out toward the street with cheap plastic box signs at the top of them. A design that doesn't put the emergency exit stairwells out to the street would be ideal, but at least including windows and decent signs comparable to other large hotels downtown would be something to applaud. The design makes me wonder if the developer has considered how the building would appear from the sidewalk.
  • The rendering of the JW tower shown on Aprill 11th is not even accurrate. This view from the southwest is misleading as you would see this ugly hotel behind the tower building. This rendering needs to be updated to show both buildings. That second tower will destroy this view.
  • Marshall, tell me why we *do* need budget hotels downtown?

    When I go to a city I never stay in a chain hotel - I find small independent B&B's or inns for significantly less money than a chain, even a budget chain, and get a far less sanitized, chain-like experience.

    Aren't we pushing for a local Naptown identity? Don't we want to support local businesses? Apparently those who disburse our tax dollars aren't/don't.
  • Donna, I'd dare say that if we DIDN'T have a budget hotel downtown, we'd be the ONLY major city in America without one. I'm glad you enjoy the experience of staying in a B&B, personally, I have never had the chance to do so but wouldn't mind trying it someday. Fact is, B&B's are typically small and relatively few in number. I can't imagine there ever being enough in a city to accomodate the lodging needs of all the people unable to afford a weekend at the Conrad. Even if there were many of them dotting the downtown landscape, I'm not sure they are always quite as affordable as you seem to think. I just did a quick internet check and found some awfully pricey B$B's. As for independent Inns, uh, this is 2008, not 1968. I don't know if you've noticed, but, uh, independent inns are kinda like a thing of the past, man.

    Of course budget hotels are needed in ANY major downtown. What, are downtown and its attractions only supposed to be convenient and available to the wealthy? Should we banish everyone with less financial means to one of those suburban interstate exit hotels that everyone keeps talking about here?
  • To say that the concept is less than bland is an understatement. White Lodging and REI must be owned and managed by old men. Their architects must old men. They must specialize in designing Hospital Additions. The days of constructing the same old functional box buildings must end is Indianapolis is ever going to morph from boring midwest skyline to an inspiration of things bigger than itself. Time and again, opportunity is lost on those developers who don't know how to push the envelope of creativity. If that is the best they can do - then it would be better to let that precious land go undeveloped until someone with heart, vision and passion can lead a project that makes our city proud.
  • Everyone feel free to interpret my questioning of why we need a budget hotel downtown as elitist; it's not, but if that's how you want to view it nothing I can say will change your mind.

    Developers build things to make money. If someone sees a market for a budget hotel downtown, they will build one and profit handsomely. But if the market is there, then the taxpayer subsidies shouldn't be necessary, right? If the site requires taxpayer funding, then we should be able to comment strongly on how we feel its appearance AND planning benefit our city.

    Maybe the building doesn't need to be an icon, but it at least shouldn't look like an EIFS piece of crap. If a decent-looking building can't make a profit at budget room rates AND with taxpayer subsidies, then the proforma needs to be reconsidered.
  • The architects are CSO Architects and HOK. CSO is ran by Jim Schellinger, governor candidate. I would not call him an old man. This design is most likely dictated by the owner White Lodging/REI. It needs major work. Please, the city of Indianpolis don't let this design happen.
  • Actually, the elevations for the Springhill / Courtyard indicate they were done by PFVS Architects, from Atlanta, GA.

    I wonder if the mayor has seen these renderings. Surely, it was someone higher up than the City planning staff that demanded the redesign of the JW building. Will anyone be concerned about the design of the S/C?

    In theory, the planning staff could request design changes as part of the administrative Regional Center review process, but...
  • What the Hell are they thinking!? It looks like an open box of Saltines. And it's probably just about as interesting, on the inside, as said box of bland crackers.
  • Looks like the dormatory where i lived at at IU...that was 1970. If we allow them to put a sign on the bridge does that mean they have to fill all the potholes in West Street? As a tax payer in Marion County can I have my name on a bridge?

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