Harmoni’s Midtown plans

Last Thursday, I attended the Indy Connect meeting at 40th and Pennsylvania. While it was an informative meeting, and I was excited to be able to participate in the discussion with the planners, the most surprising contribution was from the Harmoni table. They displayed an impressive report, complete with sobering demographic statistics, as well as a call to arms to maintain and build on the current successes of the large region “between the rivers”. Here’s a rundown of ideas contained in this document:

  • Express mass transit lines (perhaps a streetcar) down College Avenue, as well as a bus between Broad Ripple and Butler University and another that traverses 38th Street. This idea was also brought forward on Huston Street Racing.
  • White River Recreational Park to feature the river as a destination.
  • Connecting trails between the Monon and Canal Towpath along 46th and 52nd Street.
  • Art 2 Art path between the Art Center and IMA.
  • Enhanced neighborhood centers and employment centers.
  • Form-based zoning codes in specific areas to encourage urban character.
  • Complete streets for new infrastructure projects.
  • Branding (not my area of interest here, to be sure, but I can understand the need).

With regards to the funding, the answer to that question is located in this document. The organization wishes to create an Economic Improvement District, which would allow the neighborhood to levy a tax on itself.

The neighborhood is telling the city that it can not wait any longer if it wants to improve its infrastructure. It’s an empowering idea; however, it needs to be mentioned that it is also an idea that is most likely to be implemented precisely because the North Side is the city’s favored quarter.
As a blogger who attempts to cover and promote the entire city, I am unsure if this plan would simply exacerbate the problems associated with the other 3 quarters. I can say that there has been a welcome trickle of good news for the East side with regards to the Super Bowl Legacy project and Pogues Run Grocery opening soon. The city has received a $16 million dollar green building grant. Martin Luther King Jr Street is getting a redesign and will become a two-lane street. Fountain Square is still adding cool attractions, although opinions are decidedly mixed on the new fountain.
Perhaps it’s naive of me to be optimistic at this point, but I do think we can still head in the right direction as a city, as long as we can become better connected, and don’t hide most of the ideas and investment up in one corner of the city. Overall, though, Harmoni has some great ideas and I personally will attempt to become more engaged in the process.

Comments 11

  • I don't think it's a matter of hiding, or "masking" the blight in other areas. This is an initiative by the people. If the individuals in this area feel that the quality of life could be better, why should they wait 7-10 years for funding to become available when all the grant dollars are already going to areas of high need and ignoring the other areas in which some would say "don't need it". IF they want to have an additional tax burden – then so be it. Beats waiting for city/grant funds that had stipulations on how to use it. This way the residents can have a say in what they want the money to go to. We live on an intersection in this area the the sidewalks and curbs were Horrible! We contacted the city and they said it would be about 3-4 years. We even have a handicap resident in our community and has to use the street. So, the block took up a collection and we repaired everything on our own. It's going to take more initiative from residents to spruce up the city – a city that is in a financial downspin.

  • I did not mean to be critical of the project, and was hoping that I was clear on this subject. I'm trying to be as fair to the rest of the city as possible, because I live just south of Broad Ripple, and the project would probably benefit me personally. I hope the people who are behind this can understand my position here on this blog.

    Certainly, I do think taking control for ourselves is a great idea. What I am saying is that I don't know if such a thing can be pulled off in the rest of the city.

  • I have added another sentence to the last paragraph, hopefully that can clear things up. Thanks for the comment.

  • Thanks for the clarification. Yes you are correct, unfortunately, I don't think the cooperation and civic engagement in the other areas would lend itself to this type of initiative. I too live in this defined area and I think it would be a great model for a Neighborhood Development Organization or group, such as Harmoni, to create a template that works and then allow other areas to replicate it if not offer assistance. Thanks for the update and all the thorough information!

  • The other difficult part of this, is going to be getting everyone on board with the same plan. If you hop over to my post, you can already see diverging opinions… and my post was strictly to explore the length and costs associated with laying the line. Not neccesarily the 100% specific route. People are going to want this to extend to downtown… they are going to want it to go along 38th street. Fountain Square. Mass Ave. It begins to get expensive if you bend to what everyone wants, so eventually someone (probably the MPO and someone else if higher authority) will have to base it on rider studies and such to choose the final routing. It helps that neighborhoods stand up and have a firm plan. I live in the Keystone-Monon neighborhood and there is no "plan" to speak of. I think that neighborhoods could learn a lot from Harmoni. Thanks for the post kevin! Was more than I thought you were going to post

  • It would be nice to take the Harmoni Plan and the Smart Growth Document for the near Northeast Side and compare and contrast, since it's two totally opposite areas of economic and social dynamics. Anyone hear much more about the Smart Growth initiative for this area lately?

  • My parents were visiting Indy a couple months ago and we were going around looking at neighborhoods for the possibility of them moving to Indy (they now have 3 grandchildren in the midwest and they live in Rochester, NY).

    After several hours, my Dad noted that I kept using the terms "up and coming", "lots of redevelopment", "potential", "plans for XX" and he wondered where the Indy neighborhoods are that you would consider "done." I had a hard time coming up with one. Mass Ave/Chatham Arch/Lockerbie Square is one area that's very close, but you'll note in the recent Urban Times that those invested in the neighborhood still consider there to be issues with the area. And it certainly aint cheap.

    Meridian Kessler is also close, but seems to be missing a central commercial corridor (though they certainly don't lack for neighborhood nodes). Fountain Square might be the closest thing to a complete neighborhood this city has, but its housing stock has more issues than the Mass Ave or M-K areas.

    In any case, my Dad seemed to note generally diffuse redevelopment effort around the city and wondered what would happen if city resources and efforts were more concentrated, as they were in Fall Creek Place. Even there, however, the residential redevelopment happened while the commercial development is still waiting, waiting, waiting….

  • Sounds right. I live in a place that is about as high on the Walk Score website (74%) as anywhere in the city, but I'm still a good distance away from being able to buy such every day items as Tylenol, toothpaste, or deodorant. I either take my bike down 56th Street to the Safeway on Illinois, or up Guilford to the Broad Ripple Kroger (when it's nice outside, that is). Still, I'm not complaining. I'm very lucky to have what I have.

  • Unfortunately for a low density city like Indianapolis, a bulldozer is part of the solution. Proper planning would suggest consentrating a higher mass of people in smaller areas…meaning 3/4 (at least more than half) of existing Indianapolis could be considered inefficient wastelands. There's no wonder the city can only afford to patch it's streets and infrastructure…not actually fix it. But 69 and 465 get re-paved every other year. Let's get rid of half the police force and invest in bulldozers…and just start over.

  • No neighborhood will ever be completely "done" just as one's home is rarely completely done.

    Entropy will always have some homes and businesses decaying downward and in need of improvement an revitalization.

    Psychologically though I think people need to see the level of "doneness" in Lockerbie/Chatham Arch/Mass Ave to feel like they are buying into a sure thing (or rpetty close to it).

  • How would Indy's zoning restrictions change in the future when light rail and mass transit developments change the urban landscape? There would be more opportunity for mixed, diverse neighborhood development, BUT what or how long will it take Indy to get there? $6 GAS? Or much more?
    The next mayor shoould totally focus on infrastructure and the development of MIDTOWN (meaning
    38th to 16th streets & MLK BLVD to College Ave OR maybe Keystone)

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