Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Development: Senate Ave. and St. Clair St. -- A Blank Slate

Several years ago this warehouse went on the market (9th St. and the Canal, still currently used by Kirkbride Bible Co.):

Then sometime in the last year or so, this warehouse went on the market (east side of Senate Ave., between St. Clair St. and Walnut St., previous tenant unknown):

Then a couple weeks ago, this warehouse went on the market (St. Clair St. and the Canal, formerly B.H. Gardner Co.):

And now, as of a week or so ago, this warehouse is on the market (St. Clair St. and Capitol Ave., formerly Litho Press Inc.):

The former Litho Press building is a full quarter-block, four story building at St. Clair St. and Capitol Ave. It's just begging for a first rate refurb that opens up the huge window openings that were bricked-up years ago. It could be a great residential loft conversion, though many other uses are certainly possible. An 88 space parking lot is associated with the building. Here are a couple photos that show the detailing on this old warehouse:
The Southeast corner of the building, St. Clair St. facade.

Same location, focusing on the roofline.

Looking West at the Capitol Ave. facade.

Same location, focusing on the detail around the main entrance.

The Northeast corner of the building.

With the Litho Press building now on the market, my eyeball estimate is that about 25% of the land in the four city blocks around the intersection of Senate Ave. and St. Clair St. is now actively for sale. Additionally 15% or so could be classified as completely vacant or underutilized (though not actively for sale). Talk about a blank slate!

Here's a look at the land for sale (sites outlined in green) and vacant/underutilized (outlined in red), with the Cultural Trail route through this area in blue:

View Senate and St. Clair in a larger map (longer descriptions of each site are also available).

With this much land simultaneously available, it behooves the city to have a specific, long-term vision for how redevelopment of this area should progress. This is doubly important given that this area sits adjacent to the future crossroads of Indianapolis' two great urban walkways: the Cultural Trail and the Central Canal Walk. The Indianapolis Regional Center Plan 2020 specifies 'Residential 27-49 DUA' (Dwelling Units per Acre) for the block northwest of the intersection and 'Research Community Mixed-Use' for the remaining three blocks.

What goals should the city have for this area?


Indy Rock said...

I wish they would bring up the Cultural Trail north on Senate Avenue for a block then head east. That would help out the redevelopment of that block even more! As usual, great in depth analysis Cory. :)

CorrND said...

The constraint on that option is the width of the St. Clair St. bridge over the canal. It's not wide enough for the Cultural Trail and replacement is WAY beyond the financial means of the trail budget. St. Clair is also generally not a good candidate for the trail east of the canal due to the narrow ROW.

CorrND said...

I'll kick off discussion of uses in the area with one idea:

A public parking garage on the SW corner of Senate and St. Clair.

This is an ideal location for a public garage given the proximity to both the canal and the Cultural Trail. It's also a good access point to the canal with the large open park space there.

The garage would need to include dedicated replacement space for the existing parking lot at that location. As an incentive to the neighboring building, perhaps it would be bridged to that building for convenience. It could also be designed with excess capacity to be leased to future developments in the area.

The ground floor uses would need to activate the pedestrian space on all sides of the garage. And if a developer wanted to shoot for the moon, they could also top the garage with residences that would probably have great views.

I advocate not having too much height immediately next to the canal, but this site is set back far enough that as much as 6-8 stories would be fine.

I recognize this as a pipe dream for now, but in an ideal world, it strikes me as a perfect way to alleviate the inevitable concerns about parking that any development with retail is likely to have with the area.

Indy Rock said...

I dunno how much I agree with the need for a parking garage in that area is. Just a block or two south is The Cosmo which has a lot of public parking. The need is more for a mixed use structure like you mentioned. Howeve, it needs to cater to the Cultural Trail and Canal users.

Anonymous said...

The coolest thing in this area is the quonset hut between Senate and Roanoke. That would make a kickass nightclub.

CorrND said...

I applaud the Cosmo for providing public parking spaces, but they're not providing "a lot of public parking." A paltry 30 spaces are allocated to the public. That's not what the canal needs.

indy Rock said...

I could've sworn it was more than just 30 spaces. But who knows?

CorrND said...

That info is from Property Lines, where it sounds like those 30 spaces were chipped in as part of the case for a tax subsidy from the city:

It's more likely that F&C allocated 30 spaces to the public as an incentive to potential retail tenants.

Crossed said...

Several thoughts:

1) Any new parking garage anywhere in the downtown core should be required to provide spaces or boxes for commuter bicycle parking. the garage operators wont like it, but they should be required none the less.

2) A nightclub was proposed for this area 10 years ago, but was shot down by the residences to the north. Wonder how much faster this would have developed had that been allowed to occure?

3) The city has designated a life sciences district near this area. The property owners could be gearing up for that development to take off?

4) Or most likely, real estate will take longer to recover, and the owners are looking to get out while they can?

thundermutt said...

or 5) The coming of the Cultural Trail has made area property owners think the skies will rain money on them.

Anonymous said...

If this area is going to receive a "makeover" or become more developed there is going to have to be more police coverage/better lighting. As of now there are lots of illegal activities happening at night, as I often find 2-4 condom wrappers in the parking lot and alleyway every morning.

thundermutt said...

Safe sex is illegal now? Wow. Seems to me a minor thing to see condom wrappers...cigarette butts and empty cans and bottles offend me more. At least you don't report seeing hookers and johns going at it.

The cops I know all say Downtown district (HQ is just a few blocks away, in the first block of W. 9th) is the safest of all.

Anonymous said...

They are male prostitutes. They hang out in the alleyways.