Thoughts on Ralston Square?

October 7, 2007
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Here are two renderings of the proposed Ralston Square project. The $60 million South Street project, named in honor of the original planner for Indianapolis, would feature a 150-room hotel, 55 condos, a 617-space parking garage and 41,000 square feet of retail space. The full story is here.

Ralston Square
Ralston Square
  • Not a bad design and it's taking the place of a useless ugly parking lot. I look forward to knowing the what is going to fill the retail spots!
  • Not bad, though the small windows make it looks prisonesque.
  • There are pros and cons. The pro is the building is definately being used for a good purpose... rather than just leaving that area a ugly unsightly parking lot. On the other hand... the con... well I can list more of the cons than I can list pros. One con... The building is ugly. Unattractive. Unmotivated. Boring. Bland. Second con... I wonder about the essence of the condos being inside the same building of boring architecture? Especially on that side of downtown? The last con would be... Since the building is next to a rail line... how can the developer stumble with the decision of sound proofing? There shouldn't be a choice. It should be sound proofed... PERIOD. I doubt someone would like to plunk hundreds of thousands of dollars on a condo and live in it vibrating and rattling. Not me.
  • Ever stayed at the Crowne Plaza? That will tell you what it's like to have a train rumbling by at 3 am. Perhaps it's actually time to relocate the entire rail line - either to the Raymond Street corridor or underground.
  • It looks like the Condos are on the top two floors, so I think that's a weak argument to compair it to the Crown Plaza, which is ground floor space. As far as the design goes I think its in keeping with the area, Ratio does a good job with understanding what fits!
  • The architecture is blase' - why can't Indy architects come up with something unique, rather than rehashing 70's designs?
  • I think Dustin is on to something....consideration should be given to sinking the rail lines below street level. I'm not sure if it works logisitically with the materials they transport, but I definitely believe it would open up a barrier that currently exists. Let's face it, the tracks act as a wall to the south, and if it weren't for the Noodle and the Colts I would never venture past that blockade.

    If private development interests are strong enough, maybe it's the right time to see if sinking the tracks is a viable option. Just a thought.
  • Hasn't anybody been to Chicago with their El!? Seriously, it's part of city life, get used to it! Seriously, this is overall a GOOD project! They just need to tweak the design a bit... Make it a bit more attractive, while still keeping the green roof, track hugging, ground floor retail, etc. etc. :)
  • I think this is a good use of that site. As much as I'd like something more vertical (as you can tell from all my other posts) I think this is an overall good design.
  • I think its great to extend downtown's presense to the south. JoBu is right, the tracks have acted as a barrier to downtown for too long. With the new stadium pushing development south, I hope this is just the start. Unfortunately, I doubt it would be possible to run the tracks underground for any meaningful length. The cost would be prohibitive and probably the high water table here would cause issues with a big underground tunnel. Relocating the tracks, or at least most of the non-local rail traffic would be better, so long as it doesn't jeopardize future mass transit plans.
  • i would love to see the rail lines converted into indy's version of the high-line park in new york city. how cool would that be - awesome elevated views of the city, more greenspace and more opps for foot traffic...this project is okay (love the green elements), mainly because it is extending downtown south of the tracks. i do hope the specific design will be a bit more attractive, though.
  • Ryan: more ped traffic over rail lines? Dude, we need to mass transit on the right of way we have left!

    Architecture: very poor
    Density: what density?

    This should be in a TOD overlay and should at least allow for a rail stop to be incorporated in the near future.

    Further: Condos in this building are going to be really expensive (325/ft or more) would be my guess based on construction costs. HOW MANY RACE CAR DRIVERS DO THE DEVELOPERS THINK WE HAVE WILLING TO PAY THIS KIND OF $$ FOR DTOWN INDY??

    There's already like two years of supply in this price range on the MLS alone! I'd hate to see the supply if I added in the pipeline of future dev.
  • I completely disagree with removing the rail lines. The existing rail infrastructure and Union Station are centrally located and can be a great asset in developing future mass transit options downtown. The argument of the tracks being a barrier is unproven considering the development that is taking place south of the tracks today.

    Back on topic - it's good to see all the urban infill projects being proposed downtown. I'll chalk Ralston Square up as another win for downtown.
  • That's been the issue all along, bring in mass transit on that line and through Union Station?, or remove the rail, and erase the barrier?...quite a contradiction we all need to figure out, and it ain't easy! The proposal is good for that site, it has been waiting to be developed for years, and this seems a pretty good solution. Parking below, and hotel and condo's above make for a good sound and vibration separation....Also, between Pouges Run (a buried creek in a concrete box culvert) that runs under and perpendicular to the elevated rail line, and the depth of White River not too far away, the depressed rail concept becomes virtually undoable....rails need very, very long grade transitions, like miles!
  • ivo - point taken on the mass transit. i'd much rather see passenger rail put in place along those lines over anything else. but, if that is not the plan (which seems like we'll all be dead and gone before any actual decisions are made/contruction will occur) then i say high-line all the way! another off-the-wall idea (busy day today, i know...): how about creating stalls or small, moveable stores/vendors underneath the monorail? probably couldn't happen today, but i think that would be a cool use of the dead space below the tracks. hot dog stands, farmer's market, etc. it would rely heavily on foot traffic, which is what we're striving for. just throwing it out there.
  • Good, solid infill. Exactly what Indy needs!!! I like this and look forward to seeing it rise and hopefully even more developmpent south of South Street will continue.

    As for the rail tracks. ABSOLUTELY NEVER should these be removed. Do you know how much trouble it can be to acquire ROW? Especially in built-out areas for trains. Lilly has tried for decades to get those lines removed and the City has stood still by not bending. Indy is only going to continue to grow and passenger rail/commuter rail/light rail will happen. Indy will never take the next step to actually being world-class until passenger rail is built. Until then, we will succeed in the Louisville and Dayton category; not in the Cleveland, St. Louis, Portland, and Charlotte category of cities.
  • Good points, Kent. Viability of dropping the lines below street level would seem too costly given the natural barriers. Pleading ignorance I have to wonder how they pull it off in NYC though, given that it is an island.

    I'm also in the passenger/mass transit camp for the rail lines, but there's got to be something else that can be done to erase or ease the barrier that is there. While Kevin is correct that development is occurring, other than the Colts/Noodle crowd and a bit of the Lilly crowd, not much foot traffic makes it past the rails. Unless of course you want to hang out with the Greyhound transients. I would be hesitant as a retail destination to locate at Ralston knowing foot traffic with buying power is non-existent most of the week.
  • Sorry, got too sarcastic and forgot about the Greyhound move. :) I still maintain my position however, and I am thrilled with the infill and development to the south. Here's hoping it works!
  • it looks good
  • I'll repeat what I've said before about development south of the tracks. When I used to work on S. Capitol just before the 70 ramp, we had bars on all the windows. My boss kept the doors locked and looked through a little window on the door, also with bars over it, before opening it. The building across the street was the same way. I'm excited because they're putting RETAIL on the first level of this project. When I worked in that area I couldn't even CONCEIVE of a retail and condo project being built south of the tracks.

    I should add: the building I worked in was overgrown with weeds and trees, had a metal, rusted staircase to a small 'apartment' upstairs AND there were two large gravel parking lots on both sides. The building across the street was white with long-ago boarded-up windows and a huge graffiti mural on it. The building next to us was painted BRIGHT BLUE for the Colts (I actually think it's still there). While I appreciate the fan support, and I also acknowledge the graffiti mural was of fine quality, these buildings, along with the post office, are what I would consider 'ugly'.

    My point: get over the less-than-spectacular architecture of this project.
  • I'm pleased that such a project will bevundertaken in that location; and the LEED elements are commendable. But the architecture seems so... uninspired? institutional? retro? These renderings suggest that the inspiration for the design was a cutting edge 1950's-1960's hospital. Surely some degree of imagination could be incorporated to make the specs seem less the work of Mike Brady!
  • Good project, good location, not a fan of the design.
  • Bravo on the plans. Do wish they where a little more urban than suburban. Agree on the rail rumble, lived in NYC on the fourth floor and when the Lexington line went by it vibrated my apt.
  • Because someone is going south of the tracks (like the slippery noodle across the street, Shapiro's around the corner) we should look the other way on Arch/Design??? That's nuts!

    We already have more suburban hotels being built next to New Stadium (Damn that could have been great mixed use product), and freakin drive through outlots! If we, as a city, don't grow a pair of big brass ones, we won't have any good parcels suitable for good design left. We need to set the bar high now and stop feeling like we have to approve garbage just because someone wants to build in our city!!!!!!

    It's too bad we can get more feet on the street, jobs, and therefore econ growth Dtown. Maybe then we could attract National, Creative, Visionary developers! Currently, if I were one of those groups I'd say Keystone at the Crossing is the only place I'm risking my $$$$. Oh wait, that's right, someone is already doing that! Wonder why????
  • Ivo, I agree 100% with your comments. The Community North expansion looks a million times better than this replica of a hospital circa 1960.
  • We definitely need mass transit in Indy. If Charlotte and Salt Lake City can, why the hell not Indy?!?!
  • Looks like a high-rise Crestwood Village.
  • I like it, the windows could be bigger, but it looks good!
    Sleek style of architecture, good use and color of brick aswell.
  • Good project and decent design.

    The rail lines will and should stay. They will be part of the hub that not only handles high speed interstate rail, but local mass transit as well. The City has plans for a mass transit station south of the dome on the USPS parking lot north of South Street.

    The Rail Barrier will be breached with the stadium. You will see a large mixed use entertainment complex go up where the USPS Sorting Center is in the next few years. You will see more hotels, apartments and businesses go up as well. I remember the people who moaned that we will never breach the West street barrier, the White River Barrier, the I-65/I70 barrier. All have or are being breached as we speak.

    There are people building $400,000+ homes right next to railroad tracks in Johnson County. It is not a big deal.
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