Over the next five weeks I will profile 5 possible neighborhoods poised to benefit from the controversial NE Corridor line in Indianapolis that fall within the Marion County portion of the line. The corridor in focus is one proposed by Indyconnect, and would originate at Union Station in downtown Indy, and terminate in downtown Noblesville, on the region’s NE side. It would be the first rail transit of any kind in the Indianapolis area since the interurbans were dismantled. The neighborhoods in focus, have already begun some sort of station area planning as part of a neighborhood revitalization plan, or make good sense to be considered for such.
In 2009, an iniative was launched to explore revitalization of an area that borders the Monon Trail and lies between 16th street, and 30th street. The inniative, named the Indianapolis Smart Growth Renewal District Partnership, looked at the history of the neighboorhood and formulated a plan to revitalize it from years of decay that currently plague the area. The area’s history is industrial in nature resulting in a number of brownfields, and by extension, urban blight. Many properties, commercial and residential, are abandoned and have been cited as trouble spots by the city. Crime, rumored disease and lack of property upkeep have been pointed out. Those that currently live in the neighborhood have displayed a willingness to be involved in communicating how the future should look.
The plan centers on 22nd Street & the Monon Trail where The Project School is currently operating inside of a rehabbed warehouse, embodying the spirit of the plan. Future plans call for remediation of the brownfields in the area in the form of parks or pedestrian gathering areas and transit oriented devlopment surrounding transit stops in the area. One proposed stop could be located at 22nd street; however planners advocate for up to 3 stops in the area. Whichever area is slotted as the neighborhoods hub, connectivity to the rest of the area is key in promoting the revitalization.
The Indyconnect plan is not clear yet on how many stops will be located in the area. Due to it’s commuter rail status, building enough developer support will be key. Typically, “light rail” offers headways of 10-15 minutes and more frequently spaced stops which are obviously more attractive than “commuter rail” service of generally 20-30 minutes and station frequency generally measured in MILES rather than feet. The fact that the NE Corridor is new, should be promoted as a reason for attracting property developers to the area.
Another fact that will be pivotal in making sure that mixed incomes are addressed equally, will be city involvement. Most developers, left to their own devices, will plan higher income developments hoping for a large payoff. Most developers refer to this reasoning as “market demand”. As we often see, market demand doesnt drive urban property development as said private developers claim. In most areas of America where transit oriented development occurs, mixed income neighborhoods are constructed at the urging of city planning departments and political will. Another portion of this plan which speaks to me, is that many schools are located and planned for. This is another area where private development typically keeps it’s hands off the table. Insuring that public & private schooling is properly connected, will be a key responsibility of the city when it comes to promoting proper development patterns.
As you can see by reading only a few pages of the report (which is 122 pages), the neighborhood revitalization plan is 100% based upon a rail line being built through the middle of the area. Without the transit line, the plan would likely be changed. You even get the sense that the planner’s have hung their entire case on this notion. What will happen if the line is not built? Will the neighborhood continue to fall into disrepair? Will another plan be hatched? Where will funding come from? As such, energy is building in this neighborhood soley because a transit line has been announced to someday travel through it. Any changes that might jeopardize that energy should be closely examined by planners and addressed accordingly with stakeholders.
Next week’s post will center on the region loosely defined as “71st & Binford Blvd” where a neighborhood group has already published a station area plan based upon the same NE Corridor line.