What next for Old City Hall?

July 17, 2007
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Old City HallThe Department of Metropolitan Development is seeking two independent appraisals of Old City Hall, the historic building that has housed the State Museum and now houses the interim Central Library. In January 2008, the library is slated to vacate the stately building, shown here in a 1918 photo from the Indiana Historical Society. After the library leaves, the city likely will issue a request for proposals to determine the property's future. Ideas?
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  • Love this building, I hope it's never demolished. As far as future use.. It would be great if IMA would have a 2nd/alternate locations for special exhibits. The more art downtown the better.
  • The City desperately needs a new County CourtHouse. The IMCProsecuotrs have moved right across the street, and the City County Building is bursting at the seams. With the increasing amount of arrests made annually (we are becoming a more urban county each year, its gonna happen) we need to get these folks through the system as quickly as possible. I sat in court today while some idiot had been in jail since May 30th for stealing 2 f*****g candybars. The court couldn't get to him until today. The County will continue to add judges and courtrooms as we move forward/condense with our urban growth.

    These often violent offenders need to be in a seperate building, away from the CC Building & the general public.

    this poposal has been floated before, by Judges Miller and Bradford, IIRC.

    Hey - you asked! ;)
  • i agree it's a beautiful building and one of my favorites (oh god, i probably just jinxed it - any historic building i like seems to fall to the short-sighted wrecking ball)...while what da hooey says makes sense, it would be a shame to house criminals in such a building. it's a work of art inside and out. benjami has a great idea. i've thought before that imoca would do well there (like they would have at herron's old digs) - what a cool contrast of beaux-arts/classical and modern art. definitely a museum of some sort would suit the property well...
  • How about a casino? I know I am leaving myself open on this one.... lol.
  • Some type of exhibit space makes sense and would be a great addition to the Mass. Ave. area. However, if it were the IMA, it would need massive retrofitting for climate control.

    The idea of a new courthouse has been floating around for the last 20+ years. This building is not suited for court or jail space. Given today's need for heightened security, a separate facility is needed. Why are these violent offenders in jail for stealing candy bars? Did they steal a 100 Grand bar?
  • With the amount of residential development along Alabama, and the new MSA towers about to begin construction... I would really like to see this building turned in to one hell of a entertainment facility. There is enough space to turn it into one hell of a club.
  • condos! just kidding.
  • Art exhibit center or something... Something with the arts would be great, theres room for practice rooms, studios, etc. That's be cool
  • I think it would be cool to use as a conglomerate museum, putting together a bunch of museum concepts that couldn't possibly occupy the whole building by themselves. I think I heard that people are interested in making a transportation history museum and also a farming history museum in Indianapolis. Get the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art involved and throw in the Super Heroes Museum for fun and you've got a pretty darn interesting combo!
  • This building will not be demo'ed.

    Since the Cultural Trail is on Alabama, an arts/cultural use would be good. I like the idea of the IMA having a downtown presence. Visitors to Indy almost never are able to see the exhibits at the IMA while in town.

    The other thought is to return it to its former glory, and make it the true city hall. Relocate the Mayor's office from the ugly city-county building. It is not that big, so courts don't make sense for a civic use. Plus from a security standpoint, that's never going to happen.
  • Could be a nice place for the USS Indianpolis Museum?
  • I think the best use is probably going to be a municipal re-use by the city-county government. The building still has much of an imposing civic feeling. I have to agree fully with Dogg, put the Mayor (and others) back in there and give that whole CC Building to the courts.
  • I think a government re-use is the best plan. I don't see the security issue that others seem to. To me, it's far less secure to have the courts in the CCB.
  • I would love to see it turned into retirement home for circus monkeys. They can ride their trikes, smoke their cigarettes, and wear those cool Shriner's hats in an environment where they won't be critized for not being like the other monkeys.
  • I like an Arts use as well - it is a beautiful building. Does anyone remember the Marion County Courthouse that was razed before people were big on preservation?

    http://www.in.gov/judiciary/citc/museum/postcards/images/small/marion01.jpg

    I think it was a crime and to put up the the monstrosity that is the City County Building in it's place... something about the old courthouse being too costly to retrofit for modern uses, ect. I doubt the Old City Hall is any easier.
  • Way to think outside the box, Jim.
  • The world's biggest Starbucks? Maybe a Pier One? How about an Applebees?
  • How about a BW3's on the lower level and a lazer tag arena above?
  • I'd love to see Harry and Emily Kennerk's vision become a reality. They proposed it in MSA round 1.

    http://www.nuvo.net/articles/thinking_little_at_market_square/
  • I love Town Doofus's Idea. That would be awesome. Looks like it is three levels though. so lets make the top two levels a multi-level lazer tag location or a bowling alley right downtown since the one on North Penn is no longer around, and Jillians is always cramped and busy!
  • OR!!!! IKEA has bee looking for a spot downtown for the past year or So, I think whoever they are working with should locate them there! That would be an Amazing location for IKEA! In the middle of all of the residential from the Canal to the new Market Towers and Mass Ave.

    Cory, I think IBJ Should compile all of these results and send them to the City or find out who is representing IKEA and let them know about the location. They tend to build 2-3 story buildings anyway. The new one in Canton, MI is just a plain Box, but the one in Atlanta is in a very ornate building.
  • Some of our arts organizations really could use the space. iMOCA needs exhibit space, Dance Kaleidoscope could use a small performance theater. Location is perfect, fronting the Cultural Trail, and a parking garage one block east on Ohio St. Surely even Hoosiers can walk ONE block to take in a show/exhibit. Restored, the building would be a gem!
  • There have been several suggestions to turn the building into an Arts house. It is big enough to house a few museum exhibits, while still giving room to a theatre space and several studios for rehearsal, classes, or performance!

    Wow - Indy would really catapult into Major Metro-ness with a facility like this! To whom do we speak to get this idea kicked off!?

    You've never seen a nation fail because of too much Arts...
  • Didn't IMOCA drop the ball and reneg on the Herron building? They were supposed to be part of that historic renovation too.
  • It absolutely needs to be more courts for the city-county building. And, building more condo in the old MSA space is just stupid. We need more office space for the CC building AND more parking as well. Maybe that's why people don't show up for jury duty- because parking is a pain. Think about it.
  • I'm pretty sure it was in Forbes that I just read that arts are neither necessary nor sufficient for urban growth. There are plenty of growing arts-deficient cities (think Phoenix and Las Vegas) and plenty of shrinking or decaying cities with massive arts investments (Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis). Which is to say that a city in the Rust Belt can't rely on its arts establishment to bring jobs, people, and dollars to the city.

    The building was built for city goverment...let's just use it for that again instead of building new courthouse space elsewhere. I don't know about the rest of you but my property taxes are already high enough.
  • A multi-purpose Arts facility gets my vote. If the building has, or can accomodate, at least one 400-seat theater, an art gallery and one or two smaller theater spaces, a coffee house and a small music/jazz club.... Put the windows back in and it will come to life. It's a great location for the cultural trail and sits at the foot/entrance of the Mass Ave Arts District. We have lots of 1,000-1,500 seat venues in the city but few smaller venues, especially downtown. Venues like IRT and Phoenix are their own entities and use their spaces extensively for their own great work, but we need a different kind of arts center for IMOCA, Dance Kaleidoscope, and other smaller organizations. It would fill a void and be a great addition to the arts in Indy
  • I can't remember the exact number, but the Star just had a story about the economic impact the arte have in Indy-- $450 to $500 million yearly, I think. Other cities that are decaying have other issues that are influencing them. I would Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Chicago, San Francisco--all with vibrant arts scenes. Although not the best models of urban planning, Phoenix and Las Vegas both have professional orhestras and flourishing arts scenes.
  • Exactly, Tom. Those cities have other Issues like taxes that are too high, public safety that's questionable, crumbling infrastructure, stuff like that. Know any cities like that? Hint: one starts with I and ends with polis.

    Spending more on the arts right now is fiddling while Rome burns (or falls down). Right now expanding the number of arts venues needs to take a backseat to things like good schools, keeping sewage in sewers instead of Fall Creek, police protection, keeping criminals in jail...which we need more courts to take care of.

    If the arts institutions can come up with fair market value, I say let 'em buy it and then the city can build a courthouse on part of the MSA site. But people can't oppose giveaways to Simon and the Colts and turn around and favor giveaways to the arts-and-culture establishment.
  • This building is an historic gem, but it will take a lot of thought, creativity, effort and money to renovate it properly. As others have suggested, I think its best application is housing the Mayor's offices. Let's return the 25th Floor to its former location. If we act now, we could have it ready by its 100-year anniversary in 2010 and give the Mayoral office a great ceremonial facility.
  • I have to say - even as an architect with an artist husband - that I lean towards thundermutt's attitude on this one. Arts alone aren't enough, and I also believe that there is some value to the argument that housing civic uses like courtroom space in buildings of supreme grace and beauty is a benefit to all of us.
  • I cant see it being demolished. The Indianapolis historical preservation committee would bitch to their hearts content untill it was even turned into apartments.
    How about it be used for a city hall?
    The CCB needs relief, and it would be nice if that structure could stay public.
    of course they would have to restore the windows.
    But if demolition ever was planned, I would chain myself to the building. XD

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