Friday, February 29, 2008

Development: New Cosmopolitan on the Canal Rendering

Directly from developer Flaherty & Collins, here is a brand new high resolution rendering for the Cosmopolitan on the Canal:
Compare that to the rendering I posted a little over a month ago:
Boy, life is just a whole lot cheerier in the new rendering! In all seriousness, though, I expressed a dislike for the particular colors chosen in the earlier rendering. Thankfully, they've chosen to tweak the colors, to great effect. In particular, the shade of brick in the new rendering is much more appealing than the original, almost maroon color. And I'm especially glad that they nixed the light green/aqua color on the some of the upper level sections.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Photos: Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge

Very visible work started on the outside of Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge yesterday as they started stripping off the roof. Today, part of the upper floor of the building is exposed and they've got a small crane to help with the work. Is this just an extensive roof repair or a sign of more serious renovations going on? Who knows...

This second picture also illustrates one of my pet peeves about West St.: the extreme wire mess. There are few, if any, overhead wires for blocks around West St. (10th St. is an exception), yet the city maintains this crazy mess of cables on one of the most visible and highly traveled streets in downtown? This is the face we want to put forward? And don't even get me started about the road surface at I65 and DMLK Jr...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beer: This n' That (On Tap Edition)

Here are a couple notes about beers on tap around Indy right now:
  • Brugge Brasserie: Via the Brugge Beer blog, Brugge Brasserie currently has five beers on tap: Black, White, Blonde, Old Dog Cru, and Tripel de Ripple. Finally, Tripel de Ripple is back! It's part of the L'Explorateur Beer Dinner tomorrow night -- you've got your reservation, right?! -- but I'll definitely be stopping in to Brugge soon to enjoy some more of this tasty, powerful tripel.
  • BadaBoomz: An email from Mike DeWeese arrived today announcing a "Bell's Extravaganza" of Hopslam, Consecrator Dopplebock and Sparkling Ale, all three on tap. Hopslam has been on tap for a while, and I've made my opinion known about Consecrator, but I'm very curious to see what the Sparkling Ale (another Belgian tripel) is like on tap.
  • Agio: My wife and I were in Agio last night and noticed that they have two beer taps at the bar. Both currently (maybe always?) have Upland beers on them. One was a mainstream Upland beer (I think Pale Ale, but don't quote me on that) but the other has Upland's Winter Warmer, an English barleywine. I got a small sample from the bartender that was pretty tasty.
Any other interesting beers on tap that people have seen?

Beer: Swingin' into Jungle Jim's

For those that aren't familiar, Jungle Jim's is a HUGE -- seriously, ridiculously huge -- grocery store, international market and liquor store all smashed into one (and there are lots of smaller sections as well, like a cigar area). Last weekend, my wife and I had to drive her brother back to Miami University in Oxford, OH. Oxford is only about 20-30 minutes from Fairfield -- a Cincinnati suburb that's home to Jungle Jim's -- so it seemed like an ideal time to make our first trip there.

From the moment you turn off the road into the parking lot, you feel like you're going to an amusement park. There's even a bus loading area, for God's sake! After making the trek in from the parking lot, I tried to make a beeline for the beer section. The olive bar beckoned, though, so I had to stop briefly before continuing to the beer, only to be sidetracked again by the cheese shop!

The beer section at Jungle Jim's is very large, but the wine section is even bigger. My wife and I decided to split up, so while she took off to check out the wine, I circled the beer area. One wall had shelves labeled for areas of the country but the vast majority of the selection is disorganized. For example, there was a shelf of selections from AleSmith on one side while clear across on the other side were stacked cases of their IPA and YuleSmith. If you go in there looking for something specific, it might take you a while to find it. The beer area also features a walk-in cooler with many beer selections, including growlers of beer from a local brewery (sorry, can't remember the name).

The shopping itself was a different process than I typical use. Given that Jungle Jim's is very far away and I don't know when I might be going back, I circled and circled, scanning all the shelves, not wanting to miss out on some hidden gem. I wanted to be particularly diligent because Jungle Jim's stocks a lot of beer that's distributed in Ohio but not in Indiana.

One thing I couldn't get a handle on was the prices; some seemed very high while others were the best prices I'd ever seen. There was Brooklyn Black Stout for just $8.99, but I knew I could easily get that back in Indy so I passed on it. Then Hopslam was priced pretty high at $15.50, and there were cases and cases of it. Good thing I'm already stocked up on Hopslam!

I easily could have gotten three times as much beer as I got, but this is what I walked out with:

AleSmith IPA
Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout
Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale (I've had this but I love it and it was just $2.99 per 24 oz bottle!)
Brooklyn Monster Ale
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

I've already had the Hop Rod Rye and I can tell you that it's very, very tasty. I'll definitely be grabbing more of that on a future trip. You might not guess from the name, but it's an IPA. Highly recommended if you ever see it, as is Jungle Jim's in general! We were in a bit of a rush on this particular trip, so I hope to be able to spend a little more time checking out the rest of the store on a future trip. If you're ever in the area, Jungle Jim's is a place you really have to experience!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Photos: Fairbanks Hall

IU/Clarian Fairbanks Hall -- The Clarian Education and Resource Center:
  • Cost: $44M (Clarian and IU to split the cost, with a $6M contribution from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation for naming rights)
  • Location: East side of Downtown Canal, between 10th St. and 11th St.
  • Height: 6 stories
  • Floor Space: 182,000 sq.ft. (featuring various simulators for training IU Medical/Nursing Students and Clarian Staff)
  • Project Start Date: July, 2006
  • Expected Completion: Summer 2008
A rendering of the finished product

Photos taken September 2007

Photos taken February 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

DIG-B Traffic

Time for a little navel-gazing. I log the traffic on this blog with Sitemeter and you might say I have a mild obsession with it. After about four months, I've got quite a bit of information about the trends. Data, data, data -- it tells you everything:
  • What posts or topic areas get lots of hits? Beer and Development are about equal, with Gear a distant third.
  • What topics continue to get hits well after they're posted? Gear posts do much better long-term. Let me tell you, that Krups-Heineken BeerTender post is still HOT. (Thanks again for the tip, indysteve!)
  • What times of day do people show up? Not surprisingly, the peaks generally occur when people are arriving at work (8-9), during lunch break (11:30-12:30), at the end of the work day (4-5) and after dinner (8-9).
  • What leads people to DIG-B? People generally go directly to the main page or hit a specific post on a google search. About 99% of search hits come from google.
What fascinates me about the traffic this week is that the highest-traffic days of the week were the three days I posted nothing. What's so interested about nothing everybody?! The only thing I can think is that people return a couple times a day when there are no posts, just to see if anything new pops up. Rest assured, I don't plan to post nothing just to boost my "ratings"!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gear: The Last Domino Falls

And just like that, it's all over.

On Tuesday, almost immediately after Toshiba announced they would be quitting the HD-DVD business, Universal announced it was switching to Blu-ray. This morning, Paramount formally announced what everyone knew was coming: they would also be switching back to Blu-ray production (they were initially format neutral, releasing movies on both formats). With almost no hardware support and zero major studio support, HD-DVD is now dead. Only LG has committed to continue HD-DVD hardware production. Even then, their support will be in the form of their dual-format player, with the idea being that they can transition HD-DVD supporters over to Blu-ray with a player that will play their existing HD-DVD collection.

I initially thought that both formats had lined up enough support that format duality was inevitable. Of course, I didn't account for the possibility that Warner would switch to Blu-ray exclusivity, a move that exposed how tenuous the balance between the formats was. I'm pretty shocked at how quickly HD-DVD fell; it took just 48 days from Warner's announcement for HD-DVD to completely die.

Of course, Blu-ray as the standard is not necessarily a win for consumers. "Standard" can also be likened to monopoly, where there isn't the downward pressure on prices from marketplace competition. The player side will continue to see competition and price drops, though without HD-DVD in the picture, it will likely be at a significantly slower pace than we've seen over the last year. On the other hand, each movie is its own little monopoly and my guess is that we're not likely to see the cost of Blu-ray movies drop noticeably for quite a while. It took several years for DVDs to drop and we're likely to see the same thing here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photos: Cleaning up the Canal

Now, from the files of "does anybody really want to see this?" here are a couple pictures of the on-going cleanup of the algae-infested canal. And because you're dying to know: yes, the canal still reeks even when it's freezing outside.

Gear: Goodbye HD-DVD

It's officially official: as of March 31st, 2008 -- almost exactly two years after the format was released in Japan -- HD-DVD will be no more. Toshiba has decided to pull out of the business, effectively killing the format. They'll begin limiting shipments of HD-DVD hardware at the beginning of March and cease production by the end of that month.

Time for me to start scouring the internet for people and business trying to firesale their HD-DVDs. I plan to take advantage!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gear: The End is Near

HD-DVD is a rapidly sinking ship. I reported earlier today that Best Buy and Wal-Mart were both lining up behind Blu-ray. Now, in what is likely the final bell in the format war, rumors are swirling that Toshiba is preparing to formally drop HD-DVD. Without a large hardware manufacturer supporting the format, the remaining HD-DVD exclusive studios, Universal and Paramount, are sure to jump to Blu-ray soon.

HD-DVD is dead. Long live Blu-ray!

(And from a consumer perspective, thank god!)

This n' That

Things are pretty slow in the DIG-B world but here are a couple quick tidbits:

Cosmopolitan on the Canal: site prep continues with lots of digging and a mini-crane on site.

Indiana Avenue Restaurant and Lounge: it looks like work is still going on on the inside, as several cars are parked around the building each day. They're sure being pretty secretive, though, with big plywood panels covering the doors so you can't see anything. No sign of work on the rumored second floor deck yet.

Bell's Consecrator Dopplebock: Bell's puts this limited-release beer out on Fat Tuesday each year. I used to get this with my brother when we wanted to "go big," though I probably haven't had it for two or three years. This year's batch arrived at Alabama Liquor sometime in the last week so I grabbed a 6-pack. Boy is this beer disappointing! I remember it tasting "huge" to us back in the day but now it tastes very thin to me, especially compared to some of the stuff I've been drinking. Could partly be because of my expectations, but it seems very blah. It's similar to my impression of British ales: not bad, just blah. I decided to forgive Bell's when I popped a Hopslam as my second beer of the night.

Everybody going Blu: While Best Buy isn't banishing HD-DVD from their stores, they've decided to "push" the Blu-ray format as a recommendation to customers. It might be about time for Toshiba and the HD-DVD consortium to give it up. There's no way they're going to reverse the industry's slow march to Blu-ray. UPDATE (4:15pm): Wal-Mart also just announced today that they'll stop stocking HD-DVDs by June of this year. This is SO over.

Weekend Plans: My weekend schedule got shuffled a little and was worried that I wouldn't be able to go to Jungle Jim's. Luckily, Ohio does sell alcohol on Sundays -- and liquor stores do just fine! -- so I'll be heading to Cincy then. I'll let you know what I find. Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

DIG-B Hits 100!

This post marks the 100th entry to DIG-B! I know it's horribly cliche, but it really seems like just yesterday that I randomly decided to start writing this random blog. The format is a little odd, but hopefully there's something here for everybody! Thanks to everybody that comes back day after day to read (your numbers have certainly swelled in the last month). Knowing that there are people actually reading makes all the work worthwhile.

Here's to another 100 entries!

UPDATE: To celebrate 100 entries -- or because three comments on older posts arrived just today -- I finally got around to adding the Recent Comments widget at right. I'm going to leave it at the top for a little while so people notice it, but I'll probably move it down the column in a week or so. (I like having the ND stuff at the top!)

Development: LISC Urban Forum 2008

The local planning team for the upcoming LISC Urban Forum 2008 has asked for help from Indy development bloggers in promoting their event and I'm happy to pass the information on to you. Here's their promotional blurb:

Urban Forum 2008
April 28-30, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana

The Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) would like to invite you to attend Urban Forum 2008, taking place April 28th-30th in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gather with well over four hundred decision-makers from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and share your diverse and unique perspectives on neighborhood commercial revitalization, commercial development and retail attraction. Build a network of peers, experts, retailers, and developers while taking advantage of educational sessions and tours. Registrants will come away with a deeper knowledge of current commercial revitalization issues, as well as discover ways to implement proven methods and strategies for reinvigorating your neighborhood commercial corridor.

Register before February 29th to receive the early bird rate of $300 for individuals. View our brochure or website for more details.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gear: Netflix Goes Blu

In another knock against HD-DVD, Netflix has decided to exclusively back Blu-ray. Frankly, this makes no sense. I can almost understand the retailer mindset that their shelf space is finite and they'd rather stock their shelves with a product that moves faster. But Netflix operates out of warehouses! Are we really to believe that by not stocking HD-DVDs, they're going to use that space for something else?

On the other hand, you could argue that Netflix is simply trying to hasten the end of the format war. But do they really think their choice is going to be the knock-out blow against HD-DVD? And do they really have that much to gain by ending the format war? On a per-movie-rental basis, they don't make any more money renting hi-def movies. In fact, they probably make less, as the initial purchase price of a hi-def movie is higher than standard DVD.

As a current Netflix subscriber who rents both Blu-ray and HD-DVD movies, I find this quote curious:

"From the Netflix perspective, focusing on one format will enable us to create the best experience for subscribers," the company said, adding that not many customers order high-def DVDs.

I fail to see how NOT offering the movies that some people might want to rent will create the best experience for their subscribers. Netflix' real power is in their ability to stock and ship anything that you might want to rent. Traditional rental stores can't touch this kind of selection. Now Netflix is actively working to limit the selection of movies they offer? That doesn't make any sense.

I'm going to seriously consider switching to Blockbuster because of this decision. While Blockbuster exclusively stocks Blu-ray in their stores -- where the limited shelf space argument comes into play -- their online/mailing service still offers HD-DVDs in addition to Blu-ray.

UPDATE (2:20pm): Further reading shows that Netflix is planning to phase out HD-DVD by the end of 2008. No need to jump to Blockbuster just yet. By the end of 2008, HD-DVD may be completely dead and this decision by Netflix will be moot.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Beer: This 'n That

Brugge is moving up in the world! I was just playing around with World Class Beverages beer locater and I noticed that Meridian Restaurant has a keg of Brugge White. Brugge Beer, meet fine dining. I've been meaning to try out Meridian for a while and this will certainly get me there sooner.

BadaBoomz is doing a very good job keeping their online beer list up-to-date. It was recently updated on 2/1 and then again on 2/7. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot has been replaced by Dogfish Head Midas Touch Golden Elixir as the February special (I'm a little leery of that, but I may give it a whirl). I think Founder's Dirty Bastard may be a recent addition to the list, but in any case, I'll be there soon to try that out on tap. Goose Island Pere Jacques is still on tap but I bet it won't last much longer.

Jungle Jim's: looks like I'll finally be making the trip down to Cincy to hit up Jungle Jim's next weekend. Got any recommendations for beers that we can't get here in Indy? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Beer: Rock Bottom Brewer's Dinner

I was going to write about Tuesday night's Rock Bottom Brewer's Dinner in detail this week, but I had such a "swell" time, it's all a bit of a blur to me! I know I met the boisterous Rock Bottom regular Terry (who seemed to know everybody that works there), DIG-B commenters Rodney and Jessica (they're engaged -- cute couple!) and I finished the night talking to Brewmaster Jerry Sutherlin. He had some interesting info about bourbon barrels he's working with, but my memory's a little too foggy to responsibly post here.

Hope to see everybody at the next dinner in May!

(If you want some real beer news, check out Bob Ostrander's Indiana Beer News page. He's been busy in the last week. Also, Rock Bottom has a tapping tonight at 6pm, though I won't be able to make it.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Development: More SODO Renderings

The website for the ambitious $480M Legends District-SODO project on the southside of downtown Indy was recently updated. It features a promotional video containing several fly-through clips with various parties talking about the proposal. There's also an information packet in pdf format with some diagrams and a siteplan. For convenience, I've pulled the visuals out of the information packet so you can take a look (the full document can be viewed here). As always, click on any of the pictures for a larger version.

Couple quick observations, mostly based on the siteplan:
  • The project will be built in multiple phases, presumably based on demand.
  • They're proposing 200 condos. Seems a bit ambitious, particularly when you look closely at the numbers and see that they're planning 1600 sq.ft. and 2800 sq.ft floor plans. Those are big condos. A majority of the condos are in the second phase, with 70 in the first phase.
  • Where's the little guy in this plan? Why not take half the condo units, split each of them in half and market them as apartments? With so many different buildings with condo elements -- I count six buildings with condos -- it would be quite easy to maintain them as separate entities.
  • Parking is very well hidden, with all of it either underground or backed up to the train tracks. And there certainly is a lot of it, with 1500 planned for phase 1 and 700 in the second phase.
  • Copious ground floor-retail. Even the theater building has a retail element. Three of the retail units are labeled "x2", presumably double-floor units for the proposed big-box stores.
  • On the southern end of the siteplan, it shows Merrill St. with an arrow "TO LILLY" pointing East. I haven't been by there in a while, but isn't Merrill St. fenced-off under the railroad tracks? Interesting, if they're proposing to reopen that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tuesday's Five W's (and One H)

Who is going to the Rock Bottom Brewer's Dinner tonight? If you're going, look for a late-20s guy with glasses and a full-zip navy blue sweater and say hi!

What will the presidential campaign look like tomorrow after the dust settles from Super Tuesday? (Obama, Obama, Obama....)

When will I actually brew my next batch of beer? I've been saying I would get to it the last two weekends but never found the time to go buy ingredients. The WillCo is running low, time for more!

Where would you like to see streetcars around downtown Indy? A new group, Downtown Indianapolis Streetcar Corp. is planning to study possible routes for bringing them back to Indy.

Why not? Brewers of Indiana Guild are considering a Winter Microbrewers Festival next year. (via Indiana Beer News, Jan 30)

How about Bill Belichick? Two days later and I still can't get over what a douchebag he is for not sticking around for that final tick of the clock.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Go Giants!

That. Was. Awesome.

I'm popping a Goose Island Imperial IPA to celebrate (as I mentioned I would over at Matt's Beer Blog).  Here's to the Giants!  

What a class act Belichick was, walking out before the final snap of the game (this quote courtesy MJD at Yahoo Sports):

"There's time left on the clock, his team's been humbled, outplayed, and lost their chance at history ... and Bill Belichick doesn't have the stomach to sit there and absorb the pain until the clock read 0:00.

That's unsportsmanlike at best, disrespectful at least, and at worst, it makes him a big sissy."

UPDATE (11:22pm): The euphoria is wearing off -- happiness from a hated rival losing can only last so long -- but I just remembered that Plaxico Burress predicted a 23-17 Giants win.  Tom Brady was surprised to hear that, not because Plax predicted a Giants win, but because the score was so low (the Patriots lowest point total all season was 20). Turns out Burress overestimated.  Sweet.

This n' That (While Watching the Super Bowl Halftime Show)

  • Would you be willing to be in the halftime show crowd -- the people that maniacally run out at the beginning of the show -- knowing you'd have to wait under the stadium and miss most of the game?
  • If Tom Petty lived next door to you and wasn't famous, wouldn't you guess he was a pedophile?
  • Justin Tuck (an ND grad that my wife tutored!): please, please, please plant Tom Brady into the ground a couple more times in the second half.  
  • Does anybody else find it odd that TB is an acceptable nickname for Terry Bradshaw?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Photos: IUPUI Campus Center Interior

I intended to get over to the IUPUI Campus Center a second time this week to add photos to this collection. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I'll be able to do that. Rather than delay any more, here's the shortened set I took last Friday, January 25th. An additional set may follow at a later date, perhaps when the building is 100% complete. See earlier photos of the exterior here and here.
The Art Deco signage above each of the
three entrances. This is the SE entrance.
The view from below (basement level). Note the
long escalator at left, with landings at each floor.
The gerbil tube connecting the second levels
of the Campus Center and Cavanaugh Hall.
Each department within the Campus Center
features a sign such as this over the door.
There is a small gallery space in the Campus Center
currently showing "Marching Toward Justice: The History
of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution."
The view from above (4th floor).
For those that are curious, Starbucks gets the prime spot in the Campus Center: First Floor on the corner of Michigan and University, inside the Barnes & Noble bookstore. It is expected to open in April, though no work had begun as of last week.