What happens when a large section of a city threatens to become obsolete? Â That question came to my mind after hearing Indianapolis’ DMD director Adam Thies mention that he was worried about the future of Pike Township at yesterday’s We Are City Summit. Â I was fortunate to be invited to the event as a media member, and I left both inspired and looking for answers. Â Thies mentioned that most of the houses in Pike Township were built to last 30 years, and they are rapidly approaching that age now.
First, this is a look at Pike township’s buildings from 2012:
Now let’s look at the building outlines that were placed before 1996. Unfortunately I do not have access to house age data, but the building outlines are good enough for the purpose of this post. The older building lines are colored green:
Of course, this selection captures many older buildings that are not of the age that Mr. Thies was referring, so let’s drill down further to show the building lines that were built between 1986 and 1995:
A selection count shows that 11,187 of the 35,722 building lines in Pike Township were built between the years of 1986 and 1995, which accounts for almost 1 out of every 3 lines. That is a ton.
Not surprisingly, this is a heavily car-dependent section of town with few sidewalks along the major roads, but there have been some improvements there recently. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Michigan Road recently completed a long path along the west side of the street.
- Westlane Road was the second bike lane built in the city.
- 56th Street and 71st Street have each added a multi-use paths and bike lanes.
There are a few IndyGo lines currently, but they are a bit of a meandering mess:
This network would make a bit more sense if IndyConnect were passed. The same lines would be kept in place, but there would be more frequent trips along Michigan Road and from the Park 100 area:
This leaves us with some serious room for improvements. Running more buses along thoroughfares and completing the sidewalk and bicycling network are obvious future moves for the township, but of course the money for these projects will have to come from somewhere. In order to make Pike Township an attractive place to live in the future, however, the city will likely have to figure it out. The other option is slow decline.