MDC and IHPC Quick Hits – 12/7/11

Here’s what I’ve come across in Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC) and Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC) filings as of 12/7/11 (click links to read staff reports on these cases):

1. IHPC 12/7/11 – Harry & Izzy’s proposes an all-seasons outdoor seating area adjacent to the recently completed Georgia St. pedestrian walkway. They want to get the seating area in place in time for the Super Bowl but the structure wrapping around the NE corner of Georgia and Illinois would be permanent. Staff recommends approval.

A rendering of the proposed outdoor seating area at Harry & Izzy's, NE corner of Georgia and Illinois.

2. IHPC 12/7/11 – A developer proposes reusing the former Riverside Community Corrections facility at 1415 N Pennsylvania for an affordable housing community with 30 apartments. At this point, the developer is only requesting a variance of use to allow apartments on a C-4 zoned site while they wait to learn if they receive HUD tax credits in February. Any alterations to the building or site would necessitate a separate IHPC case. Staff recommends approval.

Note: “MDC and IHPC Quick Hits” is not comprehensive coverage of all cases before the Metropolitan Development Commission and Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. If we missed a noteworthy case in a recent filing, let everybody know in the comments section.

See the previous Quick Hits here.

Comments 10

  • Just what downtown needs: another permanent mega-structure taking up valuable sidewalk space making it more difficult to walk. Other such monstrosities include the almost never-used seating compound for Weber Grill and the similarly unused appendage to Jimmy John’s that reminds me more of a MASH tent than a welcoming dining area. Outdoor seating is great when it’s actually used, but to build these structures that sit empty all winter long and overly narrow the sidewalk to the extreme of barely allowing two pedestrians to pass make it overly burdensome to travel on foot downtown, especially in the winter when snowbanks take up even more valuable sidewalk space. And consider the elderly, disabled, and others who need a little more time and a little more space before taking up too much of the sidewalk with these structures. A plan that indicates how much of the sidewalk would be very helpful. From the rendering it appears that pedestrians are being relegated to the outer third of the existing sidewalk.

  • Just reread above and realized that there was a link to the IHPC staff report and found the overhead plan indicating that the structure will take up 12′ of sidewalk width and leave 6’9″ for the public. Interesting that the staff report indicates that the Wholesale District plan indicates that a minimum width of 8′ should remain unobstructed, but recommends approval of this without explaining why 6’9″ would be adequate.

    And while the staff reports mention that the removal of meter poles and newspaper boxes will maintain unobstructed sidewalk space, the report and the site plan omit the existing traffic light pole, street light pole, and fire hydrant that will remain (as well a public trash container near the corner) and make it difficult for two pedestrians to pass or walk double-file. And we should also remember that most people aren’t going to be comfortable walking on the outer few feet of sidewalk next to the curb lest they walk next to passing vehicles or in the path of opening doors from parked vehicles. Thanks for posting this information.

  • I have to agree heartily with the objections to sidewalk seating. There are enough obstacles: poles, signs, fire hydrants, and those ghastly ‘free paper’ dispensers all over the place, not to mention the panhandlers.

  • The counter to this is the nice, new boardwalk down the center of the street…..
    I dont mind this request at all. It addresses a new public space in the right way

  • I totally agree with Paul about outdoor dining, given the context it’s within: downtown. I will argue there are very few downtown streets pleasant enough to warrant al fresco dining, which is merely a ‘romatic ideal’ for restaurants for exposure and higher biz. But H&I’s is not on MASS AVE or in Fountain Square (OK, it’s getting there), or Meridian Kessler (watch out for the NIMBY’S!). Downtown streets are void of life at most times except for events. Why does H&I’s need this outdoor dining? You got me. Maybe they should concentrate more on the food?

  • I feel that the proposed outdoor seating is completely appropriate for the newly redeveloped Georgia Street area. Do we want activity outside of the mall or not? We need MORE, not less of this type of thing…

    And if two people can’t negotiate 6’9″ of sidewalk space at the same time, me thinks someone might want to consider a diet.

  • I’m all for outdoor seating, but maybe the underlying point is that this all-season dining is NOT outdoor seating… they are just expanding their building out into the pedestrian zone and taking away our sidewalk. When you put up the plastic or glass or whatever they plan to do for “all-season” you are then just a pedestrian shoved to the edge of the curb “looking in” at the diners, instead of feeling as if that life and energy is out on the streets

    • I recently visited Washington DC area and we stayed in Alexandria, a thriving suburb with a highly active pedestrian area (King Street). It was not a pedestrian mall, but a slow auto street with a lot of shops, diners, etc. There were a lot of sidewak diners there too which created situations where pedestrians and diners would interact or be “uncomfortably close” to one another.
      I can say as a pedestrian and a diner both, it did not affect me. Not annoyingly at least.
      Not all situations are created equally, but I think this will be just fine given the transforming pedestrian nature of Georgia Street

      • I guess I didn’t articulate my point very well… I have NO problem with diner-pedestrian interaction, in fact I encourage it, I don’t think there is enough.

        The real question is, “are they encouraging this interaction and providing vitality to the street, where both parties share the sidewalk zone, or does it relegate the pedestrian to the outer limits of the sidewalk and discourage interaction?”. This particular design seems to encourage the latter (ie solid panels instead of railings, plastic “windows” instead of being open air)

        An entirely different discussion, but why must dining be sectioned off at all?!?!?! We want permeable environments, yet we “fence people in” and put giant awnings out that will need artificial light underneath (instead of something like umbrellas that can be put up and taken down according to the weather… protection when its hot, or sun when it’s cool)

  • I would argue that DT actually needs wider sidewalks in general. Many other cities have substantially wider sidewalks. Obviously, the CT takes a stab at this, but huge arterial one-way streets impose width restrictions for the large segment of the population that walks around town. Even if they are driving in and out of the city, all trips begin and end with a walk. There are many spots in the heart of the CBD that make it difficult to even fit 4 people through side by side without other obstructions. I like the concept of H&I extending out a bit whether the actual design is great may be a different story, but the true problem is sidewalk width. Georgia will help on that side though.

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