Sunday, December 23, 2007

JW Marriott

The new plans for the heavily subsidized Marriott convention hotel at West and Washington Streets seem to be a definite improvement from the previous iterations. The glass tower, now proposed to be multi-colored, has a horizontally arcing form. The bulk of the tower now stretches north to south, rather than east-west, which will greatly change the impact of its view from all directions, but maybe most notably from Victory Field, from which the left-field view will not now be dominated by the massive structure.

The site plan appears to be an improvement in that there are no surface parking lots indicated, however, the large sweeping, off-street, vehicle drop-off areas on the east and north sides will likely result in sidewalks along West and Washington Streets that are uninviting to pedestrian traffic.

Here's the latest rendering:

the JW may be more attractive, but this was just the first thing I thought of when I saw the multi-colored glass scheme:

This is from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis. In the background is the tallest of five buildings in a development that was planned for fourteen such buildings. Five were built before the plug was pulled. Today, this a low-rent development, with the majority of households receiving government rental subsidies. The area is home to a very high concentration of Somali immigrants. The area's first light rail transit line stops about a block from the building. Okay, it seems that there are few similarities between this site and the JW Marriott site.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow covered sidewalks

With many new faces soon to populate the mayor's office and the City-County Council chambers much debate will surely center on what policies need to be addressed regarding property taxes, crime, economic development, etc. in order to take the city in the right direction in the coming years.

However, on my walk to work a week ago Thursday (6-Dec-07) morning, I couldn't help but think that we are still missing the basics. Twenty-four hours after the snow had stopped falling, 80-90% of the sidewalks along my 1.5-mile walk into and through downtown had not been cleared. The citizens of Indianapolis need to get off their rears and make an effort to keep the sidewalks passable for those who either choose, or have no choice but to walk to get to their destinations.

Why is this tolerated? It doesn't happen in other cold weather cities where I've lived or visited. Perhaps, the culture needs to change from one where those who walk are viewed as second-class citizens who don't merit the effort it takes to clear the sidewalk. When did this happen? Surely, there was a time when Hoosiers saw the value in walking. Is it any wonder that Indianapolis consistently ranks near the top of obesity rankings, and are nowhere to be found on the lists of cities rated with the highest quality of life.

We should all strive to be able to again go out our front door and safely walk to our neighborhood school, church, park, convenience store, bus stop, etc. Not only does it seem like common sense, it's clear that the type of environment that is sought by young educated professionals, which the "brain drain" continually indicates our state is lacking, is a city that provides first-rate recreational and leisure opportunities. What is more basic to recreation and leisure than a system of usable sidewalks.

The first admonishment should be assessed to the individual property owners whom are not fulfilling their obligation to clear the sidewalks adjacent to their lots, but let us not forget the government's important role to play in enforcing the city code that requires such action by its citizenry. Clearly, the latter is not happening, which is enabling the former.