In the fall of 2009, an infill development on the west side of downtown Indianapolis caused a stir with local urbanists. The DiRimini, or as it was called early on, Sarajo Commons, was set to take an empty lot on N. Capitol Avenue. The project is targetting IUPUI students and potential downtown dwellers. Finally, someone was stepping up to fill in one of the many vacant lots on this side of town. The parcel in particular, was located along 733 N. Capitol Avenue, a former grassly lot that had sat vacant for years.
When the initial plans were submitted to the Metropolitan Development Commission, the project looked like a win. Frontage to the street. Proper scale. Lots of windows and plenty of decoration to flesh out the buildings public faces. And located in the rear, would be parking. By all measures, a successful looking submission for this parcel. The massing is particularly strong for a small structure. 5 stories along Capitol Ave.
Fast forward 7 months to present day and a casual observation of the new development will tell you immediately that something has went wrong. The project we have recieved only vaguely resembles what was submitted to the city last year. A comparison of the recent photographs to the submitted plans shows a lack of windows. 3 stories instead of 4 along St. Clair. A massing at the corner of St Clair and Capitol that wasn’t submitted into plan, and what appears to be a moving of the upper floor into a previously open area on the roof. And while the actual construction shows what appear to be painted on stripes across the faces, the submitted renderings show what appear to be outcroppings which serve to break up an otherwise flat face that we see today on site. The renderings show what appear to be shadows under these stripes which would seem to indicate some sort of protrustion. The lack of windows is likely the largest deviation I can see that has caused a vast change of vision.
How did this happen? How could a plan that started as a promising project get turned into something that is a ghost of what was planned? Others have apparently asked the same thing. Construction has skewed so far off plan, that a work stoppage order was issued on September 9th by the Department of Code Enforcement (RE: Case #VIO10-101658). The description for this case is as follows:
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH REGIONAL CENTER PETITION 2009-REG-029 CONDITIONS # 1, 5, 7 AND 8 AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH IMPROVEMENT LOCATION PERMIT ILP09-01774
Currently, the City of Indianapolis is working with the developer’s attorney to mitigate these issues. Work has since resumed on the interior as well as some drainage infrastructure but exterior work is halted pending reinspection which, according to the city’s website, is on September 28th.
Urban Indy will continue to follow this issue as it hits close to the heart of many area urban advocates.
Updates on 10/6/2010 via the IBJ: What do you think? City seems to be hedging on “NO”
If you are one of the few who have followed my writing, then you know I penned a fairly strong blog on my own site (follow the link to read) a number of months ago when it was announced that IPS was aiming to sieze property adjacent to IPS School #58 on the east side of Indy. It caused an uproar with urban enthusiasts here in the city for good reason. First off, siezing people’s homes so that a parking lot could be constructed is sacreligous for an urbanist. Not to mention all the associated downfalls of this from environmental water issues, to the social implications as well as taking 7 paying properties off the tax roll in the neighborhood.
I sent a fairly terse letter to the IPS school board at that time and recieved a reply from Annie Roof, who was one of the discenting voters when this issue was posed to the board at the time. She thanked me for my input and asked that I attend the public meeting that will be held regarding this issue. Well folks, the time has come and tonight is that meeting. It will be in the Board Room of the John Morton-Finney Center for Educational Services, 120 E. Walnut St. Unfortunately, I will not be attending since my Calculus grade is pretty important and I have a quiz tonight. However, I will be sending another letter to the board that closely resembles what follows after this paragraph.
I wanted to take this space to highlight a few things that IPS could do when it decides to finally send the shovels to IPS #58. Instead of mowing down homes in an act reminiscent of the interstate construction days of the 1950′s these suggestions offer alternatives that are considered socially responsible, urban in nature and altogether a better use of the land available to IPS #58.
First off, if IPS is going to add some facilities to the property where the parking lot currently exists, they should look at 54th & College Ave in our own community. There lies the relatively new Fresh Market. It is a new supermarket that was constructed in a space with many of the same constraints facing school #58; namely how do we find parking for our peoples? What they did was innovative for Indianapolis. The first part of their construction was to build the super structure in a way that would accomodate rooftop parking. In essense a parking garage on top of the building. The footprint of the Fresh market is roughly that of the parking lot adjacent to school #58 and it appears that there are between 40-50 parking spots on the roof of their facility. IPS could look at the same way to accomodate teachers parking on top of a new structure that they wish to build on the existing parking lot.
Next, the loading and unloading of buses. This appear to be done in an alleyway on the east side of the school. A simple way to make loading and unloading safer, would be to move this to the west side of the school, along Linwood and directly onto the sidewalk in front of the school doors. The current parking setup along Linwood, places cars along the west side so that southbound drivers can park. Changes could be made that moved the allowable parking along Linwood to be on the eastside of the street, so that northbound drivers could use parking along the curb. Mark off the area directly in front of the school as bus only parking and call it good. Since buses unload on their right side anyway, students would depart the bus directly onto the school’s property.
These two suggestions both represent one tried and true method of solving parking that is currently at work within our community, and another that represents decades worth of practice in unloading children at schools. Both accomodate what IPS wishes to accomplish with #58 and avoids the social, environmental and tax zapping elements with the currently proposed process of dealing with the current facilities of IPS #58.