Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Photos: Southeast Corner of West and Washington

I was going through some photos from a couple months ago and found a couple of this open lot at the corner of West and Washington. With 1626 hotel rooms going in across the street -- and all the wallets and purses that will be staying there -- how long will this lot stay empty? I can't confirm, but I assume the State of Indiana owns this lot and has it earmarked for State office expansion. With the convention mega-complex to the south of this location, though, it might be in everybody's best interest for the State to give up this lot and consider expanding north from the Statehouse if they need space in the future.

Looking East, with Washington St. and the Indiana Government Center on the left.

Looking West, with West St. at the top and the JW Marriot beyond.


ahow628 said...

That area does belong to the State, however, I would assume it will remain empty as it currently is. There really isn't room to build anything interesting aside from a park. A building would have its back windows staring in a parking garage. Worse decisions have been made in this silly city, however...

CorrND said...

That footprint is larger than you think. Take a look at a satellite shot of the area. The Marriott, Westin and Simon towers could all almost fit on this site. Whatever the use, I'm sure an architect could just design it such that all the service areas backed up to the garage and not worry about windows.

CorrND said...

The structure could also be designed with ground floor retail, 3 or 4 stories of parking and then something on top.

All of this aside, I actually agree with you that we're not likely to see anything for a long time. The city and state already have plenty of land they're not-so-actively trying to get developed. Plus, the grass on this site will mean this is a park to too many people!

E. said...

As Corr said I like the idea of developing it into say a 9 story mixed use structure.

Floor 1 Retail/Parking
2-4 State Offices/Parking
5-8 Apartments
9 Condominums

Perhaps that's too many uses, but hey a boy can have a pipe dream can't he?

JG said...

E and CorrND: I believe you are both right on for development. Mixed use is the way to go, though I would always caution that the development needs to be adaptable on top of that. As markets and demands change downtown it allows buildings to adapt and remain full and lively.

May I add the suggestion for a green roof over at least part of the garage next door to make up for the lost land, but more importantly make the building more attractive to tenants?

Ablerock said...

It's so funny that you posted this. I have been pondering it's development potential for the last few days after analyzing the potential impact of the JW Marriott complex.

The importance of this parcel to the success of the westside of downtown Indianapolis cannot be understated.

Think about it:

We're putting 1500+ people into an area with virtually zero retail. There is no incentive for pedestrians from the hotels to enter the city at street level. Based on the current setup, conventioners and tourists will choose to use gerbil tubes to walk several blocks to the mall and S. Meridian.

East on Maryland street until Capitol is a pedestrian nightmare, a cavern of blank facades, uninviting hotels, and convention center entrances. There is no hope that it will get better anytime soon. West takes you out to the zoo.

South on West St. goes nowhere fast, unless you like exploring steam plants.

North on West St. takes you towards the canal and IUPUI and the government complex. It might make for a scenic walk, but there is zero nightlife, entertainment, or retail.

With the proper mixed-use development of the parcel across from the government complex, Washington street has a chance to be the chosen pedestrian corridor to enter downtown for those lodging at the JW Marriott and other hotels along Washington.

Ablerock said...

BTW, That parcel is huge. The footprint of the 14-story Indiana Government Center North fits in it perfectly. (Just check it out the aerial on google maps) A 15+ story building would be great. Multiple stories for retail, parking, offices, apartments for IUPUI students, and condos. Remember you've got a captive audience with the Simon building, several hotels, and the government center. That's several thousand people within a couple of blocks. The Cultural Trail will be passing right in front of this parcel and zip right through the heart of IUPUI, and connect to the rest of downtown. White River State Park is right across the street. The Canal is a block away. Victory Field is across the street. The Circle is just few blocks away. LOS is just a few blocks away. It's across from a shiny new hotel. It's a prime, prime spot. Hopefully it won't get ruined.

thundermutt said...

It's already ruined: owned by the State of Indiana. That is the ultimate in "patient capital", since they can hold it forever at almost zero cost.

Inevitably, we will need more state offices. And when we do, it will be built on. Not before then. (Woe be to the bureaucrat who costs the state its opportunity for a cheap building site, by letting go of this one!)

Ablerock said...

A mixed-use office tower could still create the desired effect.

The main thing I'm concerned about is first/second floor retail. More downtown residences (especially near the park) would be preferable, but as long as the first floor engaged the pedestrian, I'd be happy.

Perhaps we'll get lucky in a few years time and our future mayor and governor will understand proper urban development.

thundermutt said...

I think you overestimate the flexibility of state bureaucrats, Ablerock. They might put a cafe or convenience concession in the ground floor, but it'll be behind security and only accessible from the building core.

Some urban colleges and universities "get" the notion of community-serving ground-floor retail, but I don't think ANY city or state government organizations are there yet. So it's not just our current governor and mayor.

Anthony Bullard said...

It's kind of sad that many people here are right, this will likely not be developed any time soon. I think this is something that would actually be worth working towards changing. Selling the land would doubly benefit the city, in the fact that they would receive immediate cash in hand for the lot, but the developer would then be paying taxes into the city coffers(even if it is somewhat abated, still something is better than nothing). Maybe the state could include some sort of lease option on Class A space in the development should they come to need it. The great thing is, the state and city could work together and include covenants in the deal that could provoke appropriate design - without using police powers to do so(except in the context of contract law).

With tax revenues falling the way they are, any way the state and local government can improve the financial performance of the assets they hold should be a godsend. Not to mention, I believe that governments holding onto property at no penalty indefinitely leads to both sprawl in government facilities and to artificially tightening the supply of land. Such a practice in the highest value sector of the city - and one that is having trouble attracting redevelopment - is just nonsensical.

Maybe a project in which a list of city, state, and county properties in the CBD is maintained - along with estimated property values, lot sizes, and nearby amenities/attractions - could be a useful thing for the development community as a whole to engage in. And then take actions to change governmental policy.

P.S.: And yes, I do understand that the government selling thee properties does nothing to guarantee development - the demand for such development must still be there - but the city and state making a concerted effort in this regard would definitely be a welcome change.