When factories close, what's next?

January 23, 2008
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Sherman ParkA Bloomington developer is planning a $20-million revival of the former Thomson Consumer Electronics plant on the city's near east side. The 50-acre Sherman Park property has become an eyesore since the late 1990s, when Thomson moved the last of the plant's jobs to Mexico. Pinnacle Properties envisions new office, industrial and distribution uses, along with a neighborhood park. It won't be easy to pull off. Read more here. Pinnacle's experience includes the reuse of RCA's plant in Bloomington, a town that soon could have another empty manufacturing facility. General Electric plans to close its 110-acre Bloomington refrigerator plant at the end of 2009. What should be done with these properties?
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  • This particular site is a classic brownfield, a huge mostly-empty blighted factory complex right in the middle of a neighborhood residential and commercial district.

    In the best world, it would be scraped clean, remediated, and redeveloped on a smaller scale.

    The site isn't useful as a giant manufacturing or warehousing facility because the street grid in the area isn't suitable for large numbers of heavy trucks. (I know...RCA used it that way but it was a neighborhood negative.) Re-use works at the Shadeland Ave. factories (RCA Records, Chrysler, Western Electric, Jenn-Air) because there is excellent transportation access.
  • tear it down and bring in perhaps a grocery store, office space, and apartments to help the near east side. Perhaps they could turn it into a factory again so people can find work?
  • I think Pinnacle's idea of fixing up the property will significantly help the eastside as well as bring in more businesses, more employment, and tax revenue. There isn't anyone right now that will sink the money into demolishing an old manufacturing facility to build retail and apartments. With the development in the center core of Indianapolis progressing the way it is we will start seeing a ripple affect of neighborhoods further away from downtown reap the benefits of the city centers growth. As an eastsider I am much anticipating this ripple affect and see more progress with the area between Irvington and downtown.
  • the area between Irvington and downtown has some of the best historic architecture in the city including many turn of the century apartment buildings and old mansions. I think someday the entire central city will be in far better shape.
  • Scrape it and build a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market?

    Especially since Ikea isn't coming. (Sorry Da Hooey)
  • 1. Don;s Guns
    2. Casino
    3. IKEA
    4. New Jail Space
  • Da Hooey are you kidding?! No wal-marts!
  • retail at this location?! give me a break. this place was blighted when my father worked at RCA in the early 80s. I'm sure its much, much worse now.
  • While there are parts of the inner city that aren't well-served by grocery stores and retail, this really isn't one of those areas. The nice, relatively new Kroger store at Linwood Square is only about a half mile away.

    I agree that it would be dangerous to be overly ambitious with this site. It's optimistic but reasonable to believe that urban renewal will continue to creep eastward from downtown and westward from Irvington (Emerson Heights could be an absolute gem, with its wonderful housing stock and tree-lined medians--which isn't to say that it's blighted now, but it isn't maximized) but Michigan & Sherman isn't particularly close to either.
  • ERich, the economics of poverty work such that certain kinds of retail absolutely make sense in a down neighborhood. Poor people spend a higher share of their income on grocery items, clothes, and prescriptions...exactly the stuff Family Dollar, Dollar General, Wal-Mart, K-mart, Meijer, Kroger, Marsh, CVS, and Walgreen's sell.

    Further, this part of town has high income density (expressed as aggregate household income per acre) because housing density is large. At 8-10 units per acre, even if average household income per unit is only $25,000, that means up to $250,000 income per acre of land. Again, a high proportion of that income will be spent on food and other necessities, much higher if it's 8-10 households than if it's two or three like in the suburbs.

    That's why Kroger and CVS spent $millions to build brand-new stores a few blocks away at 10th & Linwood in 2000, and why the dollar stores and pharmacies go places others won't.
  • How about affordable housing with modern designs in anticipation of all the 20 somethings and Gen y's that will be moving to the city? Be sure to include socialization space though, its what they want, along with short commutes. Add to that an affordable artists community similiar to bodner and faris, and its a jumpstart for the nearseastside.
  • This site is so contaminated from years of heavy manufacturing that there is probably no way to clean it to residential standards.

    (I worked there a long time ago.)

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

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  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.

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