Marion County is approaching full development. Sure, there will be pockets of empty fields and wooded lots here and there, but the large swaths of this type of land are basically relegated to Warren,Â Decatur and FranklinÂ townships. Here’s a look at the wooded lots and crop fields that have been mapped in 2015:
I combined these 2 layers into one layer here:
Then, I placed the parks layer on top of the newly combined layer and whited it out, as the parks will most likely stay as green spaces for the next decade at least. I also removed the data that was sitting outside of Marion County:
That green space is basically all we have left to build on outside of the urbanized area of Marion County. Almost without fail, the same type of development that has happened on the fringes in 2015 is similar to the development seen in 1955: Car-dominated suburbia. One notable new exception is solar panels:
There have been quite a fewÂ solar panels placed in fields in the past 2 years. This layer is not quite complete, but it shows that they can cover a pretty decent chunk of land if the investment is there.
But, far more commonly, these areas fall prey to subdivisions, strip malls, and parking lots. It is indistinguishable from much of the development in the surrounding counties, even though the land sits technically within Indianapolis.
Indy Rezone may mean positive changes for infill development in the urban core, but there will be less changes that affect green field construction. It would not surprise me to see many of these spaces gone in the next 10-15 years. Here’s a visualization of the new buildings (as well as building additions) in and near Marion County since 2010:
The deepest clusters of red are almost always in new subdivisions in the outlying area. People are drawn to these areas for many of the same reasons they are drawn to frontiers anywhere: new infrastructure, a promise of better schools, and a perceived increaseÂ of public safety. However, once the city’s green fields fill up, Indy is in great danger of starting a population decline from which it will be tough to recover.
The urban core will need to invest in its traditional neighborhoods. Perhaps we can’t compete with the suburbs (and even the suburbs within our own city) on their terms, so we need to be the best city that we can be.Â Promote and improve the city’sÂ walkability, bicycling, and transit infrastructure. Familiar themes, but important ones as well. Stay tuned for more of what Indy can do, coming soon in a follow-up post.