Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Development: Lugar Tower Redevelopment Siteplan

Flaherty & Collins won the rights to develop city-owned land around the base of both Barton Tower on Massachusetts Ave. and Lugar Tower on Fort Wayne Ave. in mid 2009. The Barton Tower redevelopment opportunity receives the lion's share of attention due to its strategic position in the heart of Mass Ave and because the 500 block represents a dead zone, dividing an otherwise thriving urban corridor.

The Lugar Tower proposal, fronting Fort Wayne Ave., seems to be an afterthought, though I believe it to be equally important. There's an opportunity for Fort Wayne to be a wonderful neighborhood-serving commercial street if development is planned out in a thoughtful manner. I recently came across the following siteplan for the Lugar Tower redevelopment (as always, be sure to click on the image so you can see a larger version with more detail):

A couple quick thoughts and then I'll open it up for discussion in the comments:

1. The Urban Times article linked above indicates that the redevelopment opportunity was for both the Fort Wayne side and the East St. sides of Lugar Tower. It could be that those are two different plans with two different architectural designs. It could be that East St. plans are on hold for now. Who knows.

2. I'm not a fan of two curb cuts on Fort Wayne that close together.

3. However, I am a big fan of the new curb cut for a road that places Lugar Tower on a logical street grid. In one quick design move, the placement of that tower suddenly makes sense. Lining the road with new residential units should create a great entry to the tower loading loop.

What do you think?


Kevin said...

Looks very promising, actually. You're correct, I'd like to see more of this type of development on Fort Wayne Avenue. I'd also like to see it and the part that combines with East 10th Street reduced to 2 lanes (with parallel parking if needed). It is way too wide for the amount of cars that use it.

cdc guy said...

I like the scale and density, and the overall layout too.

To your point about the northern curb cut: I think they might be able to reconfigure that smaller northern building with more face on Ft. Wayne and less on the access road, and then connect the rear-loading parking with a drive past the north corner of the tower over to the lot/entrance east of the tower.

I also think that the new diagonal street should bend past the south corner of the tower and connect to East St. Urban housing developments shouldn't have dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs.

Two through drives/alleys wouldn't encourage cut-through but would greatly enhance site circulation.

CorrND said...

Kevin -- I completely agree that Fort Wayne should be reduced to 2 lanes. I believe the current configuration -- 3 SW-bound, 1 NE-bound -- was a tweak to aid in the Hyperfix when they anticipating a greater number of people using Central-->Ft. Wayne-->Alabama to commute to downtown. That's clearly unnecessary at this point, and the need for TWO left-turn lanes from Ft. Wayne to Alabama was always dubious.

cdc guy -- Again, I total agree: through streets would be the way to go. There should be room on the north, though it might be too tight clearance for a road between Lugar Tower and Renaissance Place on the south. It's close.

Speaking of Renaissance Place, I found the siteplan on their neighborhood association page. They must be privy to the design plans as the new development will directly abut their property. Part of the text on their site is discouraging:

It will be as far awar from our units as possible, on the existing parking lot.

Why do they live in downtown Indy if they want everything as far from them as possible?

Curt said...

I still think there is a lot of space for CARS... but i digress. At least something is going in that space and density will increase.

CorrND said...

Short of building a parking garage -- which would probably necessitate that the residences be sold as luxury condos -- this is probably the best they could do.

According to the siteplan, 39 of the spaces are "tuck under", which appears to be the same as Sarojo (first floor, rear entry). There are 40 surface spaces sited internally, which is actually less than the ~50 spaces that are currently on the site. There are also 20 parallel parking spaces on the new diagonal access drive, which is a nice touch and brings the total parking capacity to 99.

In total, they took a plot of land with 50 surface parking spaces and made 74 new residences built to the sidewalks, 49 additional parking spaces and reduced the surface parking lot by 10 spaces -- I'll notch that as a win.

My big qualm? That there might not be any commercial space in the buildings along Ft. Wayne. The Urban Times article states, "the land at Lugar Tower will more likely be residential development." I hope the structure labeled "Building B" includes some space at the corner of Ft. Wayne and the new road. If not, that's an extreme lack of foresight.

cdc guy said...

"Why do they live in downtown Indy if they want everything as far from them as possible?"

Renaissance Place was conceived, executed, and sold as a downtown equivalent to suburban developments. And such units still appeal to people with suburban sensibilities organized around cul-de-sacs and covenants.

AmericanDirt said...

Renaissance Place, at least as they claim on their website, represents the first time the city issued residential permits for Center Township since the 1940s. Such developments were relatively common in 1982 when RP broke ground. I know Columbus OH has a similar one; even cities with a strong history of downtown living, such as Philadelphia, have something similar. I agree with CDC Guy--it will be hard to change what remains a suburban mentality. They will likely be a powerful force in shaping the development around Lugar, and the NIMBYs will also likely come full throttle to fight Barton Tower as well.

CorrND said...

I see the history of Renaissance Place and what drove the design of that area. The residents' mentality still doesn't make sense to me. Each of the buildings in there contains 4 residential units. They're already living in intimate proximity to many other people!

Despite the poor design, Renaissance Place has 120 units on the equivalent of about 3 city blocks. That's higher residential density than most of downtown.

Many people complain about the design and hope for a replacement someday. The problem is that the units generally sell for about $150-180k. Say they average $165k -- it would cost about $20M to buy it out for replacement. I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon.

Greg Meckstroth said...

I think this plan ought to include commercial space, absolutely. I can see Ft. Wayne as a potential Mass Ave II if you will. We already have some good bones to work with - the building at the corner of Alabama/Ft. Wayne/St. Clair plus the activity around Ft. Wayne and 10th. The road needs choked down and the site at 9th & Alabama needs developed. Then I think we could have something, especially if this development includes pedestrian retail.