Jefferson Shreve: Our city deserves excellence, not excuses

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What is your vision for Monument Circle and the areas surrounding it?

I began my career in the heart of downtown. As I walked around Monument Circle, I could feel the vibe of the city. We have lost that vibrancy. More important, we’ve lost the hope we once had.

We’ve been blessed by visionary mayors throughout the decades, from Dick Lugar and Bill Hudnut to Bart Peterson and Greg Ballard. I will endeavor to be a mayor in that tradition. Mayor Hogsett has had two terms to accomplish his goals. He’s missed the mark. He’s a good man, but he’s been running for office for 34 years, and he’s proven he can’t bring substantive change.

Our city, especially Monument Circle, has gone from a bustling epicenter to a place where business owners vacate leases and people no longer feel safe. The mayor blames the lingering effects of COVID-19. That excuse is tired. Other cities have figured out how to rebound from the pandemic, but Indianapolis ranks near the bottom of large U.S. cities. Our foot traffic is only 40% of pre-COVID activity.

I have met with business owners and community leaders who share my desire to restore Monument Circle, and it starts with reopening it to vehicular traffic. Once Spark concludes, it’s time to roll up the artificial turf and allow cars and more people to circulate around the Circle again.

My vision for the city spans beyond the boundaries of Monument Circle.

The upcoming separation of IUPUI offers Indy two distinct Research One universities. The new students, professors, researchers and entrepreneurs coming here will need places to live. I’ll look for opportunities to convert vacant office buildings to housing and attractive multi-amenity spaces. From my real estate background, I know we’ll need new dining, grocery and entertainment venues to serve our community and bring our current residents back downtown. I’ll prioritize this opportunity to collaborate with experienced developers and thought leaders.

Hogsett has been notably absent from the IUPUI conversation. That shouldn’t be. Exciting and innovative development ideas exist. We need a mayor to champion and realize them.

Under Hogsett’s administration, a request was made of the FAA to close the downtown heliport. I disagree with that move. I will advocate to keep the downtown heliport open. Beyond its critical emergency response role as the Lifeline base, there are emerging air taxi opportunities our city closes the door on if we give up the heliport.

In the coming weeks, I will announce my additional plans for revitalizing downtown. Those plans include the renewal of our City-County Building and working with those who are unsheltered.

Over a decade ago, Indianapolis hosted a Super Bowl. Indianapolis’ splendor was on full display. To this day, that event is heralded as one of the best major sporting events ever held by a city our size. But downtown today is a shadow of the downtown of 2012. It’s a terrible shame. It doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s time for a new direction. A fresh set of eyes. We need a business-oriented, creative approach to finding solutions to make downtown the thriving destination it once was. It’s time to be exceptional again.•

__________

Shreve, a Republican and former Indianapolis City-County councilor, is running for mayor. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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3 thoughts on “Jefferson Shreve: Our city deserves excellence, not excuses

  1. Excellent column, Jefferson! I look forward to working with you and being a part of re-energizing this city once again! You have great ideas and would put your whole heart and soul into being the Mayor of Indianapolis!

  2. Many of us downtown Democrats will be voting for Shreve solely because of this sensible position that streets are for traffic, not playgrounds. Please, stop the assault on our once-functional traffic grid.

  3. Excellent thoughts Jefferson. I look forward to the revitalization of our beautiful city. If you want to see the future of Indianapolis under the ongoing leadership of Mayor Hogsett, look no further than the medians on West St. just south of 10th. The trees have been dead for years, the weeds are nearly as tall as the dead trees and the medians are filled with trash. This is one of the major thoroughfares to downtown for those coming from I-65 to the convention center, Lucas Oil Stadium and more. It looks like a scene from a horror film. We can do better. We deserve better.

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