Readers of the Indianapolis Business Journal may recall that twoÂ years ago, members of this blog remonstrated against the design of the OneAmerica Parking Garage. Â That story has never been told on Urban Indy, until now. Â The reason for sharing this now will be explained towards the end of this article. Â But first, some background on the process.
A member of our team (who was at the time independent of this blog) first brought up the various issues with the urban design of the garage, which was proposed to replace a surface lot at the corner of New York and Illinois. Â This garage was to be built with public funding, in order to free up other surface lots owned by OneAmerica to the north and west for the Axis Project. Â Most importantly among the issues, the garage violated the city’s own Regional Design Guidelines. Â Here are the guidelines that we focused on:
- SC 1.2.1:New development and changes in use in areas proposed as High-Density Mixed-Use in the Indianapolis Regional Center Plan 2020 are to have multiple uses in each building or multiple uses controlled by a single development entity. In buildings that are designed primarily for single use, such as garages or office buildings, highly active grade level uses such as retail, restaurants, cafeterias, lobbies, security, and other similar uses will be considered as mixed-use.
- SC 1.3.1:In areas proposed as High-Density Mixed-Use, all grade level uses shall be designed to activate the adjacent pedestrian ways. Retail, restaurant, and commercial uses are encouraged. Exhibit windows and public art may also be acceptable for areas where retail and commercial uses are not currently feasible.
- SC 2.5.3:All new development, including parking structures shall be designed and constructed with provisions for active grade level uses to pedestrian ways.
- SC 3.3.1:All structured parking fronting on public pedestrian ways shall have the grade level designed to accommodate active uses that generate pedestrian activity, such as retail shops, restaurants, business services, and offices.
It was upon these grounds that we built our case for the remonstrance. Â Fortunately, we were able to set up several meetings with city officials and the developers to pitch our 3 alternatives, which are presented as follows:
The meetings proved that it is possible for committed citizens to meet with high-level people in this city. Unfortunately, we heard that it was too late for them to change the project, and that the Axis and Marsh was too important of a deal to jeopardize. Besides, they assured us that the project did include a 1500 square foot retail space at the corner of New York and Michigan. But, did it?
The finished product does not feature a street level door. An Urban Indy author went to look at the garage, and this was his report:
Someone brought up the additional stuff about the OA garage not having a separate entrance to the commercial space a while ago, so I decided to try and explore how one is to get inside the commercial space over the weekend. I went to the door off of New York thinking you had to enter the common entrance, and then enter the commercial space, but this door is locked and may be accessed only by employees with a swipe card. I walked along Illinois, but the only access is through closed gates for the vehicle entrance and exit. The door on the north side along Vermont is the same as the door along New York. Finally, I walked around a gate arm on the west side of the building in the surface parking lot area. I entered the garage through the vehicle access point and walked towards the commercial space. There is no commercial space. It is additional parking with no rough-in features, no plumbing, no nothing.
In essence, the city paid to build this garage for a corporation’s benefit, without even complying with its own guidelines. Â In return, the city will have a completely dead streetscape for the next 50 years, at the least, just a few blocks away from Monument Circle. Â Urban Indy’s authors and other committed citizensÂ will have toÂ do ourÂ best to make sure that nothing this egregious happens here in Indianapolis again.