North Midtown Economic District

Northside neighborhood group Midtown Indianapolis, Inc (formerly Harmoni) has been instrumental in helping to stem potential decline and promote community reinvestment.  A place where this could have a great impact is the newly proposed North Midtown Economic District.  A map of the boundaries (which includes the homestead of yours truly) is shown below:

I asked Kathryn Shorter, President of Midtown, for more information on the proposal.  This is what she had to say:

(The) purpose is to make economic development tools such as TIF, grants, brownfield remediation, etc. available to Midtown.   Once a TIF is established, incremental tax revenues generated in Midtown commercial corridors will be reinvested in Midtown, helping to spur excellent urban development and infrastructure, which includes mixed use, density, quality construction, green elements, transit-readiness, and connectivity.  The North Midtown Economic Development Area was passed at the City County Council on Monday, Dec. 5.  It is scheduled for the Metropolitan Development Commission this Wednesday, Dec. 21.  It will be established assuming passage on Wednesday by the MDC.

This meeting will take place on the second floor of the City County Building from 1 to 4 pm, in case you might be interested in attending.  Urban Indy will be supportive of the initiative, as we look to fix our needs and build on our strengths.

Comments 13

  • It looks like a great step forward, but like I said before, they didn’t go far enough on some criteria. It should be mandatory that any new development provide bike parking if auto parking is required. The propsal indicates that bike parking ‘should’ be provided and only sets an actual standard on commercial or institutional facilities above 50,000 sq ft. It is rare that those get built anymore.

    I also hate that ordinances require seperate parking facilities for each development and then mandate that shared parking or on street parking must get a variance. This almost incentivizes the status quo while punishing those who look to improve things. Make it easy, cheaper and more accessible to provide better parking standards. This is an issue with most standards that I see, not just this proposal.

    Again, this is a huge step forward and will be great for the area, but some key points didn’t go far enough.

    • Agreed. Shared parking should be the primary guiding principal in parking. This leaves the door open for more people to bicker about there not being enough parking on the property of a new restaurant or other such high intensity use.

  • Why wouldn’t the Canterbury neighborhood that sits on the Monon be included? Seems a little short sighted, but overall a good direction. As the lead developer of 49th and Penn, this is the best area to focus on investment and continued redevelopment. Only then will all the pieces connect.

    • Canterbury probably isn’t old enough to be considered for the designation. The district covers mostly Pre-WWII neighborhoods.

      I’m hoping to get some more info regarding Curt and Joe’s concerns.

  • The District is intended to cover commercial areas, not residential areas, and consequentially to spur commercial development in existing areas so zoned. It’s not Canterbury’s age, it’s that it’s a residential area. Parking is a bit more interesting in that street parking has always been available, well, to the general public, and not individual property owners. Unlike Broad Ripple, there are simply too many small commercial nodes in the rest of the District for a parking garage to be any help. One possibility is to utilize some of the captured tax revenues from the District to finally improve alleys adjacent to the nodes, in the hope that property owners would return to their garages. There’s plenty of street parking if there’s no business, but having blighted empty commercial nodes probably isn’t a good thing. One idea might be to allow some of the residential properties adjacent to the nodes to be zoned in such a way that, if it were economically feasible, the commercial property owners in a given node could purchase them for conversion to communal parking lots – and that’s already been done in a couple of instances. (Note I’m not talking about eminent domain). What’s also worth noting, is that if we ever did get light rail on College, we’d likely lose all parking along the route.

    • I disagree with the notion that the addition of a streetcar or light rail on College Avenue would likely need result in the loss of all on-street parking. Most of College Avenue has a minimum of 80′ of right-of-way. Here’s an example of how that could be configured: sidewalk (9′) on-street parking (8′), southbound travel lane (11′), rail (24′), northbound travel lane (11′), on-street parking (8′), sidewalk (9′). Near major intersections, some parking would probably need to be eliminated to accommodate a left turn lane, and boarding stations would require some additional width as well, but I think a good design could still maintain a majority of the parking. What would likely need to be sacrificed though are some of the tree lawns between the existing curb and sidewalk, but a creative design could possibly provide landscaping bumpouts between parking spaces to save many of the existing trees. Also, the right-of-way appears to be 90′ wide north of 54th Street, which provides even more flexibility, and, if necessary, a few feet could be taken through eminent domain on either side of the street in most areas without causing a signficant impact to private property owners.

      Let’s not shy away from putting passenger rail where it belongs because of an unfounded fear that on-street parking would need be eliminated.

      • With a straight face you can suggest that we lose space for the street trees along College to preserve street parking…which has been done many other places around the city, and which many of us lament in posts just like these? Those tree lawns are what make College a great street for walking to the many shops and restaurants from the neighborhood.

        Leaving little peninsulas of dirt won’t support those giant trees. Look at the trees in similar bump-outs along Delaware in FCP that were planted 10+ years ago. Some have been knocked down, some remain, but none are as big as they should be after that amount of time.

  • I’d rather see the rail than preserve the parking. Meanwhile, rail is probably more than a decade away, if not more – if we can get the referendum passed, and if we get vastly increased bus ridership, the rail conversation will begin. Meanwhile, it’s becoming the norm to have a large storage facility on most properties that used to be called a garage, and if we’re going to have lively commercial nodes, we need to explore ways to reverse that process, while at the same time encouraging public transportation.

  • I recently posted about College Ave rail, parking, and how it compares to a similar project in Portland. Let down your bias whatever it may be about Portland and look at the design aspect of the Portland line and how it might apply to College Ave.

  • Thx for clarifying on Canterbury. Light rail on College would be GREAT! 96th all the way to Fountain Square….

  • I cannot believe that sjudge is advocating rezoning residential properties adjacent to commercial nodes so that they might be purchased and torn down to make way for parking. The originally planned interplay of residential and commercial structures contributes to the unique aspect of College Avenue as a live, work, play environment. Tearing down residential property to build off street parking would defeat any effort to bring light rail to the corridor. If people think they can park in an adjacent lot, they will never resort to public transportation. Parking needs to become more of an aggravation not less to continue to direct focus on the benefits of environments that meet all sorts of needs for transportation and provide safe opportunities for all to co-exist.

  • I don’t disagree that parking woes would spur the use of mass transit, though foor the time being, making parking more difficult downtown will go a lot further in that direction than in the neighborhoods. Even if properties adjacent to the commercial nodes were rezoned as ‘potential’ parking, I assume it would happen rarely, and only were the residential properties could be obtained at a bargain price. As it sits now, groups like MKNHN are arguing that commercial nodes ought not to be improved because of parking woes and neighbors are expressing the opinion that they somehow ought to ‘own’ the on street parking adjacent to their homes.. The latter could somewhat be resolved if the City would revisit alley improvements, but what additional parking that might be created by what little parking that might be generated by the loss of a very few low value residential properties isn’t likely to alter the need for mass transit in Indy.

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