Have you ever heard of “bad development”? Have you ever heard a developer or commercial center utter the words, “We do not want more of this economic development”? Now you have, because this is exactly what the Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) along with a host of partner organizations and citizens are saying; and with good reason.
The case of Kilroy’s trying to open a new bar in the Broad Ripple Village has popped up on the local radar from time to time over the past couple of months. They hope to take the place of the Cardinal Fitness located just to the west of the intersection of Broad Ripple Ave and Guilford in the heart of the Broad Ripple Village. As proposed, the fitness center would be transformed into a bar/night club complete with an outdoor patio area. They have also requested a variance to greatly reduce the amount of required parking spaces that local building codes call for.
Now you may be asking, why is it such a big deal to locate a bar when there are already a host of other bars in the village? And what is the big deal about a bar asking for less parking? It seems logical that bars, purveyors of alcoholic beverages, would advocate less parking with the end result being potentially less drunk drivers leaving their establishment. Additionally, the addition of the coming parking garage, which has received many rounds of heated debate here at Urban Indy, could lessen the impact of such a large bar.
In a remonstration offered by the BRVA (click to open .pdf), a case has been made against allowing Kilroys to setup shop. At it’s heart, the remonstrators site a number of sticking points that range from negative reinforcement of “place”, detriment to adjacent residents & their property values, ignoring previous Broad Ripple Master Planning documents (which recommends a neighborhood shopping center at this location), limiting the amount of liquor licenses in the village as well as the aforementioned parking concerns.
Indeed, the property which is zoned C-4 has a wide range of permissible uses ranging as follows: bars, auto repair, hotel, bowling alley, hair salon, print shop, post office, lawn mower repair, gardening retail, gym, etc. The uses go on and on according to Indianapolis Commercial Zoning Ordinance. If you frequent Broad Ripple, it is obvious that a large number of businesses along the main stretch of Broad Ripple Ave have sought the bar use; and that is at the heart of why the BRVA is fighting this. They would like to see more retail usage and a stop put to the apparent binge of weekend partiers that foul up the neighborhood and generally contribute to the party reputation that Broad Ripple seems to attract. They cite that there are a number of other cultural institutions to visit in the village and that these uses should continue to be the focus of new development. The remonstration also cites the granting of parking variances over the years and how it has demonstrated negative impacts to the neighborhood in the form of traffic promotive commercial uses such as restaurants and nightclubs; uses which draw in tourists from outside of the neighborhood. Will the parking garage address these concerns? That remains to be seen, but current patterns have created an environment where large amounts of traffic are present along Broad Ripple Ave and the adjoining streets most evenings and weekends.
Lastly, the report tackles the affects of the amount of liquor establishments on the public health at large citing reports from Drug Free Marion County. The report links alcohol sales and assault with many cases as well as specific new reports of criminal activity linked to the Bloomington location of Kilroy’s.
How will this turn out? Who knows. Kilroy’s rescinded their original parking variance request and offered up a variance issued in 1987 (click to open DMD staff report .pdf) by a previous development and are attempting to push their bar through on that basis. The BRVA has collected many letters of support from adjacent neighborhood organizations Meridian-Kesller, Warfleigh & Forest Hills as well as residents. DMD seems to disagree with the BRVA and specifically addresses the concerns noted in the remonstration.
What do you, our readers, think about another bar locating in Broad Ripple?
Urban Indy is a huge champion for cycling improvements within the Indianapolis area. Cycling is a low cost, low emission and healthy way to get around for short trips to the store, to see friends, get to work, school, etc. It is with these thoughts, that I am happy to pen this review of the recently unveiled Central Indiana Regional Bikeways Plan (click to open 79 page .pdf).
The Indy MPO has been gathering input over the past year from people via the Indyconnect site as well as some other public meetings. Existing bicycle plans were taken into account and a fiscally constrained long range plan for bicycling has been rolled out. Much like the region’s LRTP with covers roads, transit, etc the bike plan is constrained by the amount of funds available. Indeed, the bike plan itself was built upon the recently adopted regional long range plan. In that plan, 7% of all funds collected will be put towards bicycle & pedestrian plans with a grand total in 2010 dollars of $13.5 million available each year; $7.5 million per year would be used to fund bicycle infrastructure.
So what will this fund exactly? A look at the map and a perusal of the plan text itself shows a large amount of bike lanes for Marion County (Indianapolis), a large amount of side paths for the suburbs, and a large amount of trail projects dispersed around the entire MPO planning area. The planning horizon extends to 2035 and that period is sub-divided into 4 periods in which projects are to be built. Extensions of many existing trails are included in the plan with the extension of the Monon north, the completion of the Pennsey as well as extension of the B&O.
An in depth analysis shows that the trail projects seem to be the ones that account for the largest share of capital expenses. That is a shame since they are the safest and considered the most attractive to potential riders; the report even covers submitted comments. Respondants said one of the biggest hurdles to cycling in the region was the proliferation of roads and interaction with motorists on those roads. That hits at the heart of something we debate often here at Urban Indy in that making streets calmer for cyclists and pedestrians is a key concern to improving street-life. This report brings hard data to support that notion. Something else that strikes me is the disparity between bike lanes in the city and side paths in the suburbs. Indeed, side paths that already exist in the suburbs are cataloged with a large portion of them in Hamilton County. The plan breaks down the cost of side paths vs bike lanes, so it is easy to see why bike lanes are prescribed in most places instead of side paths. Going forward, the amount of bike lanes far surpasses side paths over the planning horizon. It should also be noted that there is no mention of facilities such as the Shelby Street bike track.
Something that makes me wonder is the lack of “special” projects that we have been overly excited about here at the blog. Projects like Georgia Street, the Cultural Trail and such seem to be absent from the plan. Indeed, these projects themselves were special expenditures not likely to be captured in a fiscally responsible and “practical” long range plan that spread money out to create more facilities. Also absent is a pedestrian plan where the other $6 million per year is to be spent. This will likely go towards general upkeep of sidewalks and such if I had to guess. Each project was assigned a score depending on how it served population & employment centers, how it integrates with present transit corridors as well as a multitude of other factors such as proximity to parks, libraries, health institutions, etc.
The plan also lays out policy implications and some dubious ones at that. They are big and could impact the quality of cycling in Indiana. They include first and foremost, the adoption of a cycling master plan. After that, they trickle down into supportive recommendations that include adopting a Complete Streets policy, establishing a bicycling advisory committee, hiring a dedicated staff for cycling programs (something that is now handled at least in Indy, by the DPW), requiring bike parking by new development, REDUCTIONS TO AUTOMOBILE PARKING, and ensuring bike-transit integration.
What the plan does NOT do, is lay out how bike lanes themselves may be constructed from a design perspective. I have personally advocated for larger buffers between automobile travel lanes and bike lanes. There is no mention of this in the report. There is mention of painted crossings which is nice however, there is nothing about painted bike boxes, something else I have spent keystrokes covering.
In that regard, it is good that this is a draft plan and it is now open to the public for comment until September 23rd, 2011. Go check out the report and submit comments so that you can voice any concerns that you may have about the plan.
The Clarian People Mover in Indianapolis is a privately owned and operated elevated fixed guideway transit structure. It closely resembles a “monorail” but in fact is not. It was built with the purpose of connecting medical facilities in downtown Indianapolis’ NW medical district. It connects Methodist hospital on it’s north station, with the IU Medical complex on it’s south end, and by extension, IUPUI; if you are willing to walk a few hallways and take an elevator to get there. There is one stop midway through it’s route to serve another medical related facility. The service is also free of charge to anyone from the public who wishes to ride. For these purposes, it does a great job.
However, what it does NOT do, is function as a proper modern mode of transportation. While it is a fare free service, it really doesn’t serve anything else besides the medical facilities efficiently. The rail passes by numerous apartment developments and commercial developments. It stands to reason that given access to the People Mover, efficient non-automobile related transportation of people could thrive. However, getting on the people mover presents a challenge. All the stations are buried within facilities that you must really make an honest effort to reach. Once there, the facilities provided are very clean, and function nicely. In most places where a public rail system is built, private development follows it. It is this function that largely fails the Clarian People Mover. You can make a strong case that Clarian has planned it’s facilities around the People Mover and to that affect, it has spurred SOME development, but how much has the People Mover really done to promote this? Additionally, it hasn’t cut down on any parking lots, nor spurred any sort of talk about modifying zoning standards to make accommodating the people mover a motivating factor in development. It also has zero interface with the city’s transit agency, IndyGO.
Recently, property development around the 10th street and Indiana Ave area has begun on its own. A large development called, “The Avenue” will take the place of the former Fall Creek YMCA. Also, across Fall Creek, 1201 Indiana Ave, a medium density apartment complex, is being constructed. Both show that there is interest in this area as far as residential interests are concerned. The current Wishard Hospital also resides at this intersection and will become vacant a few years from now. It is unknown at this point what sort of development will grow up on the former site of this medical facility but if current trends are any indication, it will be another medical facility of some sort that could benefit from a connection to the People Mover. Also of note are prospective plans for the former Lockefield Village to convert it to student housing. A feasibility study is underway to determine if this is a good reuse. Additionally, the Van Rooy owned Campus Apartments just east of The Avenue are slated for redevelopment at some point in the not too distant future.
The case being laid out, could the Clarian People Mover be modified to interface this rapidly improving node? Could a new station located in the 10th & Indiana area usher in more private development? There are a number of smaller low density commercial nodes in this area that could also be redeveloped in a manner that complimented an oft served transportation mode such as the people mover. A mixed use transit oriented type of development seems logical. It’s fair to assume that could a compromise with Clarian (or IU Health as it’s slated to be renamed to after the new year) be struck, a more dense area that served the residents of the area and promoted a less auto dependent mode of transportation could be developed.
This is merely one transit advocate’s idea of how the area could be improved with some small changes by a corporation that has already demonstrated it is capable of providing a nice transportation service and a city badly in need of alternatives to the automobile. For years, transit advocates have bemoaned the missed opportunity that the People Mover represents. It essentially turns it’s back to the neighborhood. Perhaps it could be modified to make it a little more accommodating and in the process, provide a great service to the neighborhood and city both. Selling Clarian on the idea is obviously the largest hurdle, but a medical agency that promotes good health practices, could be the biggest advocate of a mode of transportation that promotes walking and other health benefits associated with alternative modes of transportation.
As always, Im open to thoughts regarding this off the wall idea.
Since the unveiling of Indyconnect’s long term proposal on Monday November 8th, those of us who were advocating AND EXPECTING light rail transit, are left to pick up the pieces. What we had been hoping for was light rail transit that would be implimented along Washington Street. Traditionally, light rail has been a GREAT motivator of economic investment in communities along it’s route. This fact, and this fact alone, was what most people were hoping for with Indyconnect’s intial plan of LRT along this route.
However, this was not to be. Due to the current economic climate, coupled with an anticipated pushback from fiscal conservatives across the region, planners opted for BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) in it’s place. From a shear mobility standpoint, BRT WILL address the needs of people wishing to travel from place to place using this service. It could arrive every 10 to 15 minutes using a dedicated transitway located in the median of Washington Street. It is unknown at this point when this particular system could be constructed. BRT systems that have been introduced in other cities have usually cost orders of magnitude cheaper due to the lower amount of infrastructure needed to impliment their service.
However, what BRT gains in price savings, it gives up in the form of what it is: A bus. No matter how you dress it up, it is a bus. BRT usually comes with improved stations that resemble light rail stops with raised curbs, fancy covered stops and some sort of public art to accenuate the areas and try to create “place” for people waiting on the bus. However, perception of buses is likely the sole contributor to the lower amount of investment that crops up around these routes. Rail, due to it’s static nature, tends to give potential developers peace of mind in knowing that the train is always going to be there now, and in the future.
With these facts in hand, what can we look forward to from a Washington Street BRT line? A quick examination shows that BRT has been operating in several major cities in America for some years now. Boston has the Silver Line. Cleveland has the Healthline and Everett, WA has the Swift BRT line. All 3 use varying types of infrastructure dedicated to insuring the buses get priority through dedicated lanes and traffic signal priority. They all operate special types of buses that differentiate them from the typical low boarding bus that we are used to here in Indianapolis.
Provided that the region can get this plan onto a referendum and voters approve it, future modifications of the Washington Street BRT line convert it to a full light rail system. However, this would not happen until 2030 some reports say. Can we hope that development will put this in it’s pocket and go ahead with development along Washington Street’s BRT line in anticipation of full conversion to LRT? One can only speculate at this point.
The other BRT routes suggested in the plan seem to point to a version of BRT that is not quite as infrastructure dependent as the Washington Street line. The 3 other routes specified, would likely rely upon signal prioritization and perhaps some bus only lanes at key intersections that allow buses to bypass traffic. However, we will have to wait and see what planners have in store for those routes. Whatever the case, BRT ultimately represents a compromise in technology for the benefit of fiscal conservatives, and the detriment of potentially better economic investment along it’s route.
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”