Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Development: Buckingham Moving on YMCA Redevelopment

The bulldozers are hard at work at 860 W. 10th St., clearing away an aging YMCA to make way for a new mixed-use development by locally-based Buckingham Co. When they were selected by the Center Township Advisory Board to redevelopment this site in December 2009, this is how Buckingham envisioned the development:

On a pass on the Clarian People Mover yesterday, I observed that the majority of the low-rise section of the YMCA had been razed, while the larger 4-story structure was still standing. The Indy Star reports that Buckingham expects the demolition to last through the end of June.

Buckingham also recently filed for a variance to their pre-approved siteplan that will be heard by the Metropolitan Development Commission Hearing Examiner tomorrow at 1pm. The variance relates to underground utilities that have been deemed cost-prohibitive to relocate. The proposed siteplan is below, and it appears to show utility lines entering the site at the NE corner of the intersection of 10th St. and Indiana Ave. (apologies about the bluriness -- this is the quality provided in the online staff report).

10th St. at bottom, Brooks St. at right, and Indiana Ave. angling off the left edge of the siteplan.
Note that the plan appears to show 13 curb-side parking spaces on 10th St.

According to the variance filing, the 5-story commercial/residential structure lining 10th St. has been shortened by 60' and the 4-story residential structure at the western edge of the site has been elongated by the same 60'. This would theoretically retain the residential capacity of the project. However, as the ground floor of the 10th St. structure is to house the commercial space, it's not immediately clear what effect this adjustment will have on that aspect of the project.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photos: The Di Rimini Construction Update

Sarojo Commons -- the working name for a low-rise student apartment building currently under construction on the southeast corner of Capitol and St. Clair -- has been renamed The Di Rimini. According to the website, every unit will be 2BR with both furnished and unfurnished options. Here are some photos of the on-going construction process:

Looking east at the Capitol Ave. frontage.

Looking east along the St. Clair St. frontage.

Detail of the ground floor stone facade.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Development: New Project Coming to Downtown Canal Walk?

The Kirkbride Bible Company has operated out of a warehouse at the intersection of 9th St. and the Central Canal since 1984*. Over the last 26 years, and particularly in the last 10 or so, a lot has changed in the area immediately around that warehouse. The canal, an unkempt industrial waterway when Kirkbride first moved in, is now a lively linear urban park. Likewise, industrial structures lining the canal have given way to residential, medical research, and institutional uses, among others. The Kirkbride warehouse sticks out as an odd use on the Central Canal today, one of the last vestiges of its industrial past and one of the last great redevelopment opportunities along the Downtown Canal Walk.

According to a filing with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD), Kirkbride has moved on from their canal-front warehouse -- "The existing building on the site was used as a manufacturing facility and is currently vacant" -- and their 1.2 acre site* might be redeveloped as a mixed-use residential/commercial project. In the May 27th Staff Report for the DMD Hearing Examiner, there is a continued petition for 335 West 9th Street (the former address of Kirkbride) to be rezoned to CBD-2, a designation in line with other redeveloped properties fronting the canal. An image of the site from the DMD staff report:

St. Clair St. angles off the left side, while Senate Ave. angles toward the top of this image.

Embedded within the rezoning petition are many interesting details:

1. The 'Comprehensive Plan' section notes, "The site is located within the boundaries of the Regional Center Plan 2020 which recommends residential development of 27 to 49 units per acre."

Assuming this project follows the Regional Center Planning recommendations, it would include 27-49 units/acre * 1.2 acres = 32 to 59 units.

2. The 'Land Use' section adds, "Staff would suggest that grade level commercial use on the west elevation of this building be integrated into the design. The building’s design should foster an active streetscape along the canal, consistent with other canal development. The petitioner has verbally indicated that grade level commercial use is intended for this development."

It should almost go without saying that any canal-front redevelopment needs to be attentive to the canal "streetscape", but I'm glad that the staff has specifically recommended commercial uses at canal level.

3. The 'Regional Center' section of the petition reads, "Staff has verbally indicated that the proposed development would be considered a ‘High Impact’ Project in accordance with the Regional Center Urban Design Guidelines."

This designation requires a public hearing before the Regional Center Hearing Examiner, so anyone who wants to have a say in the design of this project will get their time.

4. The petition also has a May 27th staff addendum that reads, "It was anticipated that this petition would be amended to included additional property. As of this writing, this petition has not been amended, nor new notice provided. Staff understands that this petition will be continued to at least June 24, 2010."

The warehouse immediately to the south of Kirkbride, formerly the home of B.H. Gardner Co., was until recently listed for sale. The site no longer has a for sale sign so it could be assumed that the petitioners are trying to fold this property into a larger rezoning petition and redevelopment project.

Looking North from the St. Clair St. bridge over the Canal. The B.H. Gardner warehouse is the first building on the right, fronted by the black railing. The Kirkbride warehouse with a gray/brown brick front is immediately beyond the cluster of pine trees.

In closing, and just to be perfectly clear: not only does this rezoning petition not necessarily mean any redevelopment will ultimately move forward for this site, but this particular petition was continued, meaning that it was not voted upon and will be reconsidered at the next meeting of the DMD Hearing Examiner. That said, it's certainly exciting to think about another project popping up along the banks of the canal.

* Facts taken from an IBJ article about the adjacent Kirkbride and BH Gardner sites for sale, September '09.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photos: Indianapolis Cultural Trail Glick Peace Walk

Work on the Glick Peace Walk continues on the two blocks of Walnut between Capitol and Meridian. There are a total of 10 installations on these blocks, with two more to be installed downtown on the Central Corridor (directions to the other 10 will be included at these two pieces). Here's how the designers envision the walk.

And here's a peak at the on-going work for a few of the honorees.

Photos taken April 17, 2010.

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?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Development: Ivy Tech, St. Vincent Recap and Siteplan

The old St. Vincent Hospital between Capitol Ave. and Illinois St. at Fall Creek Parkway potentially faced the wrecking ball in July 2008. Ivy Tech was in need of new classroom space and had deemed St. Vincent Hospital -- until 2002 a public housing project and sold to Ivy Tech for $1 in 2006 -- unsuitable for classroom conversion. They proposed razing St. Vincent and building this classroom building:

Fortunately, the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation quickly stepped in and put an end to that talk. St. Vincent was temporarily saved, while Ivy Tech was left in a bind, with a need for new classroom space to support a student body that continued to grow unabated.

In early 2009, a plan was floated to convert St. Vincent into student housing. The project would have provided an $18M renovation of St. Vincent and space for 250 students to live, while Ivy Tech would have turned to other land on their campus for construction of a new classroom building. Perhaps due to poor financial timing by the developers involved, that plan fizzled rather quickly, forcing Ivy Tech back to the drawing board.

By mid 2009, Ivy Tech had produced another new plan, a compromise with historical preservationists that would save the southern, Fall Creek Parkway facade of St. Vincent Hospital and construct a new building behind it (a process commonly called facadectomy). Here is a rendering of the proposal:

Facadectomy is a controversial process and the proposal lead to quite a debate around the internet. Despite the controversy, Ivy Tech is proceeding with its facadectomy plan and demolition of the building is currently underway. Thanks to Chris Barnett of the Near North Development Corporation, here is the siteplan for the future Ivy Tech building, which will feature classrooms and laboratories, as well as student services and community space:

For comparison, here is an overhead shot of the site as of 2005:

Curt at Huston Street Racing has a photo in a recent post that shows some of the demolition work currently being done on St. Vincent. Also see an earlier post here at DIG-B, showing the state of the building in August 2008 when total demolition seemed imminent.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

300 Posts and a New Blog Description

Looking over my blog layout yesterday, I decided it was a good time to tweak to my blog description. I ended up rewriting the whole thing:
When it comes to development projects, traditional media outlets generally tell you about three things:

Project Announcement
Grand Opening

What about all the dirty work in-between? That’s where DIG-B comes in. I attempt to follow as many projects as possible -- focusing primarily on the downtown Indianapolis area -- providing photographic updates of the construction progress.

This isn’t art -- I don’t claim to be an expert photographer and I don’t edit my photos. This is simply timestamping Indianapolis placemaking.
I've never explicitly stated that last paragraph, but that's always been my goal. Sometimes I get lucky with cool photos, but mostly I just point my camera at things, upload the photos and post them. Nothing fancy here.

Once I was done rewriting the description, I decided that it might be good to publish it along with post #300, which I knew was coming up soon. A quick tabulation showed that my timing was impeccable: yesterday's Cosmopolitan post was #299.

As always, thanks to everybody that reads and comments!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Photos: Cosmopolitan on the Canal -- The Left Bank Patio

The Left Bank coffee shop -- operated by street-level neighbor Mo'Joe Coffeehouse -- will be occupying the canal-front retail space of the Cosmopolitan on the Canal. A concrete patio for canal-side outdoor seating began to be poured on Friday and The Left Bank is expected to open in early May. Here's a peak at the first stage (they have since poured more).

A cozy corner immediately north of the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation Headquarters.

Looking north, a view of the entire canal frontage.

The entrance for The Left Bank.

According to the leasing office, this side of the retail frontage (the northern half) is a residents social area. The Left Bank will be in the southern portion of the space, and looking through the windows, it appears that there is no strict partition (a two-sided fireplace roughly divides the space). EDIT (4/4/10): The sidewalks are done and you can now walk right up and look in the windows. There is definitely a full wall separating the Left Bank Cafe from the rest of the space. The Left Bank will only occupy about one-third of the canal-front space to boot. Very unfortunate.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Photo: Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Photo 24

The North Corridor of the Cultural Trail will feature new traffic lights at the intersections of Walnut St. with Senate Ave., Capitol Ave, and Illinois St. These intersections were previously all free flowing for the streets crossing Walnut St. New street light masts have been installed at all these intersections, though the lights have not yet been installed. Here is one of the masts at Walnut St. and Senate Ave.:

Looking northeast at the intersection of Walnut St. and Senate Ave.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Development: Sarojo Commons Siteplan

Thanks to an anonymous reader for providing this siteplan for Sarojo Commons. The details will be tough to make out, but you can get a rough idea of the layout of the project.

The siteplan for Sarojo Commons, with Capitol Ave at left, St. Clair St. at
top, Muskingum St. (an alley) at right and an unnamed alley at bottom.

I was unaware that the project was so "thin", with the interior parking/driving area occupying over a third of the site. On the bright side, that interior area will feature permeable pavement. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and The Nature Conservancy have permeable pavement in their parking lots, but Sarojo Commons will be the first non-environmentally-oriented development to feature this material in downtown.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Photos: Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Photo 23

As part of the design of the North Corridor of the Cultural Trail, the intersection of St. Clair St. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. was shifted slightly north to accommodate the Trail on the south side of St. Clair St. This is what the intersection looks like today:

Looking east from the southwest corner of the intersection.

The center island of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. was extended significantly to the north
to provide a safe stopping zone for those unable to cross the street in the available time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photos: Construction Begins on Sarojo Commons

Site clearing began for Sarojo Commons about a month ago and concrete foundations are now beginning to be poured. Here's a peak at the work being done on the southeast corner of Capitol Ave. and St. Clair St.

Looking south, Capitol Ave. at right.

Looking east, St. Clair St. at left.

The entire site, looking southeast across the intersection of Capitol Ave. and St. Clair St.

A rendering of Sarojo Commons, submitted to the Metropolitan Development Commission.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Photos: Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Photo 22 (Set)

Indianapolis Power & Light has been working nearly every day for the last couple of weeks at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. and St. Clair St. They appear to be restringing power lines to different poles so that poles blocking the Cultural Trail and St. Clair St. can finally be removed. These photos depict the current state, with poles periodically sticking out of the road and the trail.

Looking east on St. Clair near the intersection with Fayette St.

Looking east on the Cultural Trail near the Central Canal.

Looking west on the Cultural Trail near the intersection of St. Clair St. and California St.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Photos: AJ's Lounge at Senate Manor

What a difference some paint and new awnings can make. The new owners of Senate Manor (Senate Ave. and North St.) have been busy for the past several months renovating the 77-unit, two-building complex into "upscale apartments." They also gave the facade of AJ's Lounge, a small neighborhood bar, a nice upgrade.

February 8, 2009

March 7, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Methodist Hospital Bed Tower Vision

Clarian Health and the Methodist Health Foundation recently launched a philanthropic partnership called "Lighting the Way: the Campaign for Methodist Hospital." The campaign is designed to support critical care at Methodist Hospital with the goal of raising $100M. A large portion of this money will be used to construct a new bed tower at Methodist Hospital. An artistic vision of this tower was recently released in a Clarian newsletter:

The caption with this picture reads, "Although the exact specifications for the proposed bed
tower are yet to be determined, an architect's depiction illustrates the vision's potential."

Noting the distinctive Methodist Lighthouse and the facade of the Julius A. Hanson Unit at left, this tower proposal hints that they intend to replace an existing 8-story building located on the southwest corner of Capitol Ave. and 18th St. The new tower appears to be roughly 14 stories tall.

With copious unused land around their existing campus of buildings, it seems a strange choice to demolish a building for construction of this tower. Other factors may be at play -- the existing building may be in need of significant repairs and/or features an obsolete design. In any case, this project is likely years from coming to fruition.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Regional Transportation Plans

As many of you are already aware, the Central Indiana Transit Task Force today released a comprehensive plan to guide transportation planning in the Indy Metro area. Plans for commuter rail lines to Fishers and Greenwood and a light rail line along Washington St. are getting the lion's share of media attention, but everything from expressways to bike lanes is covered. More information on the plans can be found at the new Indy Connect webpage. They did a particularly nice job with the promotional video, so here it is again:

Curt over at Huston Street Racing was able to attend the press gathering for the event and will no doubt have an update for us at some point.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This N' That

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. While there has been noticable progress in the last few months on projects already underway, we're seeing the effects of the economic downturn in that the pipeline for downtown Indianapolis projects is essentially empty. Government-backed and institutional construction continue while private development is nearly non-existent downtown.

Marriott Place
-- The Fairfield Inn (occupying the completely renovated 8-story building that formerly housed a Courtyard by Marriott) officially opened its doors today. The Courtyard by Marriott and SpringHill Suites, housed in a separate 14-story tower, are slated to open later this month. The 1005 room, 34-story JW Marriott hotel tower is topped out and the curtain wall is very nearly complete (as always, you can watch the construction progress on the project webcam). Keep in mind that a year's worth of internal work remains to be completed before the cornerstone of this project opens in 2011.

IUPUI -- While the previous two-to-three years featured a significant round of construction projects at IUPUI -- including IU/Clarian Fairbanks Hall, Walther Hall (aka Research III), the Simon Cancer Center, and the Riley Hospital Tower expansion -- those projects were largely wrapped up (or delayed in the case of Riley Hospital) by the beginning of 2009. This left IUPUI in a rare period of zero construction for the better part of the year. IUPUI kicks off 2010 with a brand new round of projects, with the Glick Eye Institute and new Wishard Hospital under construction on the west end of campus and the California St. Parking Garage under construction on the east end of campus. After 11 months of delay, Clarian recently announced that they will resume construction on the Riley Hospital Tower expansion.

A rendering of the Glick Eye Institute.

A rendering of the California St. Parking Garage.

Cultural Trail -- North Corridor construction progressed through the end of the year, though cold weather has brought work to a halt and left the project in an odd state. The segment from Blackford and Indiana over to St. Clair and DMLK Jr. is largely complete though it remains blockaded due to the fact that utility poles on St. Clair are still located directly in the path of the trail. It's unclear why these poles were not relocated prior to construction. The segment from St. Clair and DMLK Jr. east to the junction with the Central Canal is likewise largely complete, though St. Clair as well as the Walnut St. pedestrian bridge remain closed across the canal. This dual bridge closure provides no pedestrian crossing of the canal from Michigan St. north to 10th St., a span of 0.5 miles. I attempted to contact the Cultural Trail about a construction update but have not received a response (which is also odd, as they are normally quick to respond and eager to provide information).

Sarojo Commons -- This project was very recently approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission and represents a rare start in this sour economy. A relatively modest 5-story, 30 unit building at the southeast corner of St. Clair and Capitol, Sarojo Commons is geared toward student renters. The fact that student rentals are relatively recession-proof, coupled with consistently high demand for downtown apartments from IUPUI students likely made this a safe bet for the bank issuing the project loan. Initial project renderings appear to show a small amount of retail space at the corner of Capitol and St. Clair. Site clearing and preparation have been observed in the last couple of days.

A rendering of Sarojo Commons, submitted to the Metropolitan Development Commission.

As time and weather permit, I hope to get out and about and capture some photos of construction projects in the near future.