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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2006, 1:54 PM
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Thumbs up Indy's skyline getting a lift

Downtown's bright future
Indy's skyline getting a lift
Simon, Conrad and Lucas Oil Stadium are ushering in a new era of high-rise growth
By Tom Spalding
tom.spalding@indystar.com
December 16, 2006


After a 16-year lull, the Downtown skyline again is looking up.
The 14-story Simon headquarters and 23-story Conrad hotel quietly cracked the city's top 20 tallest buildings this year.
And others will soon join them: Lucas Oil Stadium will stand 260 feet when it opens in 2008. A roughly 1,000-room hotel that could reach 25 to 44 stories tall, depending on what proposal is selected, will follow by 2010. And on the eastern edge of Downtown, a high-rise is still hoped for on the old Market Square Arena site.
"The last great period of high-rises was back in the late 1980s. . . . It seems to me that we may be headed for a similar time, for different reasons," said Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. "It's a little different kind of a boom, but, yes, we're seeing that."
Since 2000, $2.7 billion worth of projects have been completed in generally the Mile Square, said Indianapolis Downtown Inc.'s Terry Sweeney, vice president of real estate development. In the next four years, $2.9 billion more are planned, he said.
In some ways, what's going up, construction-wise, is a symbolic measuring stick of the economy. There's so much construction happening on Downtown's western edge, with the new football stadium and Indiana Convention Center expansion, that the resulting congestion is expected to cut into the city's convention and tourism business in the next couple of years.
But Bob Schultz, spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, loves the cranes.
"Whether Indianapolis is your eventual destination or a pass-through, it will be hard to miss as the skyline changes," Schultz said. "Most dramatically, you see that with cranes. A city with cranes is a city with opportunity.
"What it does is present a perception that Indianapolis is progressive, is moving forward, is willing to take good and sturdy steps toward progress and has an infrastructure to support it. In this day and age, you just don't build a building and hope people fill it. You've got to have strong demand."
Unlike the last boom, the construction is driven by tourism and leisure, not work. Hotels and sports facilities have been the dominant additions Downtown, not the office skyscrapers, such as Chase Tower, OneAmerica Tower, One Indiana Square and 300 N. Meridian.
There is still plenty of office space. Downtown has had a vacancy rate of about 16 percent in recent months, according to Colliers Turley Martin Tucker.
"I think it just shows the continuing coming of age, or revitalization, of Downtown," Sweeney said. "From retail, entertainment and corporate standpoints, they are meeting a demand that is identified in the market."
Inching upward

But Indianapolis has never been much of a skyscraper town. It will never compete with skyscraper-mad Chicago or have the visual impact of some smaller cities.
"It's not part of our culture here. . . . We have a pretty small footprint" compared with some other Midwestern cities, said Scott Truex, director of Ball State University's College of Architecture and Planning's Indianapolis Center.
Downtown construction was long kept in check by a city ordinance that limited the height of buildings in the area immediately around the 284-foot Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which was completed in the early 1900s. (A less-strict version of the ordinance, which protects the statue from being bathed in shadows, still exists.)
Indianapolis did not have a discernible skyline until 1970, when workers finished the 504-foot Indiana National Bank Tower (now known as One Indiana Square) with its coal-black windows and white trim. The building drew residents Downtown on Sundays to marvel at the construction.
The tower and the 372-foot City-County Building, built in 1962, were the first duo of contemporary tall buildings.
The 533-foot American United Life (now OneAmerica) building came in 1982 -- followed by the Market Tower, 300 N. Meridian and First Indiana Plaza, all taller than 400 feet.
The growth explosion culminated in 1990, when work ended on the skyline's contemporary exclamation point: the 811-foot Bank One Tower (now Chase Tower) -- now the world's 120th-tallest building, according to Emporis, a prominent building industry research firm.
Since then, most of the construction has filled in the gaps. One Emmis Plaza went up on the Circle in 1998, followed by Conseco Fieldhouse in 1999.
"It's all very positive," said David Reed, managing director of CB Richard Ellis/Indianapolis and a board member of The Indy Partnership. "This is all driven by demand."
A Downtown population that went from 7,644 in 1990 to 10,324 in 2000, according to census figures, has helped build restaurant and retail success.
Now the attention is on the new football stadium. At 260 feet, it is more than 70 feet higher than the RCA Dome and close to 100 feet higher than Conseco Fieldhouse.
"Lucas Oil is going to be enormous," said Peterson. "I don't think people have any idea how big that's going to be -- somewhere between a 22- and 25-story building in height. That's going to be a little shocking . . . a real presence on the skyline."
In addition to a new football stadium, an expanded Convention Center and a flagship hotel, the city has hopes for a residential skyscraper on the eastern edge of Downtown, with condos rising from the former site of Market Square Arena.
Former longtime Mayor William Hudnut, now an urban-planning guru based in Washington, D.C., said Indy doesn't need to add skyscrapers to consider itself major-league. "I just don't see that Indy needs that, if it can provide good housing lower towards the ground. You don't need high-rise condos . . . to dot the skyline. But if there's a market for it, wonderful."
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...NESS/612160465
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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2006, 5:27 PM
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This is great news. Nice to see Indy's skyline growing again.
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2006, 10:31 PM
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Great article.
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  #4  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2006, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
But Indianapolis has never been much of a skyscraper town. . . "It's not part of our culture here. . . . We have a pretty small footprint" . . . Downtown construction was long kept in check by a city ordinance that limited the height of buildings in the area immediately around the 284-foot Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which was completed in the early 1900s.
I have always wondered why Indy's skyline was rather small for a city it's size. I always just chocked it up to the flat terrain. Why build up when you can build out. Of course, a height restriction around the circle. Makes sense. Anyway, I really enjoyed watching the Conrad and Simon headquarters buildings go up. I am excited to hear about the hotel proposals and am wondering if the proposal for the MSA site will ever get off the ground.
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 17, 2006, 4:14 PM
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I was SO excited when I saw the headline for that article - and then, no news. I guess the folks here at SSP and over at SSC have spoiled me. I knew about all those projects already. I need to visit these sites LESS and get some excitement back in my life.
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 17, 2006, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by satsuchan View Post
I was SO excited when I saw the headline for that article - and then, no news. I guess the folks here at SSP and over at SSC have spoiled me. I knew about all those projects already. I need to visit these sites LESS and get some excitement back in my life.
Haha, I know how you feel. I saw that headline on Indystar.com and was excited to open the link to find out about some new high rise project. But in usual Indianapolis Star fashion, its just a regurgitation of old news.
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  #7  
Old Posted Dec 18, 2006, 7:59 AM
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I always thought Indy's skyline was great. Very well put together, and the commitment to fill in the gaps by planners about 6 years ago was outstanding, and is really paying off. There is concern about the Market Square Tower. I believe they want 40% sales before breaking ground. How's that going? 40% seems to be the magic number with these type projects. In cities like Buffalo, Nashville, and St. Louis, where similar residential towers are planned, 40% appears to be the standard.
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  #8  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2006, 11:14 PM
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its official indy accepted the jw marroitt proposal
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  #9  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2006, 2:52 PM
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Final Four-friendly Marriott wins


Final Four-friendly Marriott wins
Officials: $260M convention center hotel can open in time for 2010 event
By Jeff Swiatek
jeff.swiatek@indystar.com
December 20, 2006


Timely won out over tall in Indianapolis' vision for its skyline.
JW Marriott was selected Tuesday over a more dramatic, 44-story InterContinental as the flagship hotel for an expanded Indiana Convention Center -- in part because of the belief that the Marriott will open in time for the 2010 NCAA Men's Final Four in Indianapolis.
The winning proposal was chosen by a seven-member committee created by Mayor Bart Peterson, who is expected to go along with its recommendation.
The endorsement comes with tens of millions of dollars in city subsidies. But there are strings, too.
The Marriott hotel that gets built is likely to be significantly bigger and bolder than the early concept shown to the city and the public, possibly rising from 25 to 30 stories.
The Marriott's tentative design was the plainer of the two finalists. The InterContinental proposal called for a 1,016-room, red-granite and glass tower on Pan Am Plaza.
"We believe the JW Marriott project was going to meet the timeline, and it was going to be opened by early 2010," said Barbara Lawrence, director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank that will negotiate the subsidy deal for the city.
Tuesday's decision is only the beginning of the process.
City officials have indicated they want the JW Marriott design to be changed so it's more "architecturally significant," said Michael W. Wells, who runs REI Real Estate Services in Carmel and is a lead developer for the Marriott project.
"We're very open to taking a look at the existing building and trying to come up with a striking architecture for the building," he said.
The city had to choose between proposals involving two influential developers.
The lead developer of the losing InterContinental plan, Michael G. Browning, was one of Peterson's top individual donors in 2002 when the Democratic mayor was raising money for his re-election.
Wells has Republican ties. He was once campaign manager for then-Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, a Republican.
Bill French, a retail broker at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker in Indianapolis, called both proposals "attractive opportunities" for Downtown.
"It was like choosing between Miss Universe and Miss America," he said. French guessed that "the underlying financials (of the Marriott proposal) must have been in the city's best interest."
The Marriott team's deep-pocketed investors include Whiteco Industries of Merrillville, controlled by 83-year-old billionaire Dean V. White, one of Indiana's richest residents.
Wells said he and others popped open a champagne bottle in REI's office Tuesday afternoon to celebrate their win.
"We're very pleased. We're looking forward to building a first-class hotel."
John Miles, a spokesman for Browning Investments, said the InterContinental team members "are obviously disappointed" with not being picked.
Wells said he thinks his proposal won because "We have the best (hotel brand) flag in Marriott, we have the financial capital, we have the hotel experience and we control the property."
The InterContinental team controls development rights to Pan Am Plaza, but it had yet to buy the plaza's underground garage. InterContinental is a British-based hotel chain that does not have a hotel in Indianapolis.
However, the JW Marriott team has questioned the city's call for a 1,000-room hotel, saying it seems too large for Indianapolis' midsize hotel market. But Wells said he and his partners are willing to put 1,000 rooms in the JW Marriott if the city insists.
"My guess is they'll want 1,000 rooms," he said.
With 1,000 rooms, the new Marriott would rise to 30 stories and cost about $260 million, Wells said.
The Marriott bid also includes four other Marriott-brand hotels on the nearly 5-acre site at West and Washington streets. But the other three likely won't be part of the city partnership and would be developed independently by Whiteco, Lawrence said.
Groundbreaking for the JW Marriott needs to occur by early 2008 if the hotel is to completed by March 2010, Wells said.
The Marriott team has said it may need a city subsidy of $40 million. The amount will be determined by mid-February, when the city aims to complete a development agreement with the Marriott team, Lawrence said.
Taxpayer money likely would be used to pay for a pedestrian walkway to connect the hotel to the Convention Center, to subsidize the cost of the ballroom the city wants and to help foot the cost of a parking garage.
Bob Bedell, president of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a member of the Hotel Selection Advisory Committee, said "both were fantastic new developments. We wouldn't have gone wrong if we had gone in either direction."
He praised JW Marriott for being "an exceptionally strong (hotel) brand for the convention and trade show market. It's going to raise us up to the next level" in luring big conventions, he said.
The final proposals were among five submitted to the city last spring. Three proposals failed to make the final cut.
Peterson spokesman Justin Ohlemiller has said the mayor would support the committee's recommendation in picking a hotel project but may get involved in working out the partnership agreement with the city.
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...tCIfmhb6XUM%3D
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2006, 3:18 PM
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What an absolute joke. The city continues to dissapoint me with every decision our planners make. And they wonder why there is a massive brain drain.
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  #11  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2006, 6:42 PM
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There is a discussion forum on Indystar in reference to this news. Just about everyone who has commented hates the plan.
http://www.topix.net/forum/source/in...BMA548LD7DI2OI
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2006, 3:42 PM
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I like Indy and since my parent live in Bloomington, visit often. I have been watching this and have to say I'm really disappointed. Timely over tall seems short sighted. The addition to the skyline could have been so much better than this.
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Old Posted Dec 22, 2006, 12:16 AM
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i agree indy wants to be world class and IMO already is. The Conrad was prolly the best thing indy has ever gotten
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  #14  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2006, 2:10 AM
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Indy seems to have a lot of room and potential for something else taller to come along. Stay cool.
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Old Posted Dec 25, 2006, 11:17 PM
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yes there is plenty of room if you tear down all the factories south of union station near lucas oil stadium
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Old Posted Dec 26, 2006, 10:00 PM
ChicagotoRoanoke ChicagotoRoanoke is offline
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Indy seems to have a lot of room and potential for something else taller to come along. Stay cool.
Well.... sure there is plenty of space that can be developed. However, last time I looked there wasn't a list of developers looking to build anything of this size and magnitude in Indy. Let's see as of right now there are uh.... none. The point is a project this size, with potential to change or add to the skyline doesn't come along but once in a great while for Indy. Just stating my opinion that they blew it on this one.
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Old Posted Dec 27, 2006, 12:16 AM
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I happened to stumble on this article from the Indy Star that appeared on my home page (don't know why as it really has nothing to do with Cleveland even though it is mentioned).

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...612240375/1040

Dennis Ryerson
World-class city deserves to be dazzled


Some years ago, when I was an editor at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, the leader of the largest insurance company in town invited me to meet with him and the then relatively unknown architect Frank Gehry to discuss a high-rise building the insurer wanted to build.


In explaining his decision to hire Gehry, whose building designs remind me of a pile of aluminum foil run amok, the executive told me this:
"I want a design that people will be fighting in the bars of Cleveland over."
In short, he didn't want an ordinary building; he wanted to make a statement. The building never was built. Gehry, whose work I have come to admire, has become one of the leading architects of our time.
And that quote has remained with me.
I thought of it last week when Indianapolis selected a proposal for a rather ordinary-looking though high-quality Marriott as the flagship convention hotel.
The 25- to 30-story building seemed a much less dramatic design than a 44-story alternative.
I don't know that there were fights in Indianapolis bars over the preliminary design for the project, described as the "Hotel Mundane" by a Star opinion page editorial.
There was, however, instant and sharp reaction. Within hours of the story's posting on our IndyStar.com, 125 readers provided a wide range of comment, most of it sharply critical.
"The last thing we need is more 'highway exit' kinds of hotels," a Zionsville reader wrote.
"If you want us, and the rest of the world, to believe that Indianapolis is indeed a WORLD CLASS CITY, give us WORLD CLASS architecture!!!" a former Hoosier now living in California pleaded.
"I fear that Indianapolis will always settle for mediocrity and never become a world-class city," said an Indianapolis reader. "Indianapolis was given a tremendous opportunity to add an identifiable landmark to the skyline (one that won't present itself again for quite some time) and instead they chose a cookie cutter box hotel that will be as memorable as the pants you wore three months ago."
The readers were reacting the way Clevelanders did about another building that, unlike the insurance company proposal, was built in that city. The CEO of the building's owner, the Sohio (now BP) petroleum company, responded to the criticism by saying he built "a lunch bucket building for a lunch bucket town."
Is Indianapolis forward thinking, creative and adventurous? Do we have a sense of humor? Do we appreciate beauty? Do we take risks? Or are we as the Ohio executive described Cleveland years ago -- a "lunch bucket town"?
These aren't just local, American issues. I'm reading Ohran Pamuk's lovely account of his life and the city he grew up in, "Istanbul." His take is this:
"If I see my city as beautiful and bewitching, then my life must be so too."
Indianapolis officials have asked REI Real Estate Services, a lead developer in the Marriott proposal, to make the building more significant architecturally. Mike Wells of REI has said his company is open to doing just that.
Here's hoping he keeps the words "beautiful and bewitching" in mind.
* * *

Last edited by Edgewater; Jan 9, 2007 at 3:22 AM.
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  #18  
Old Posted Dec 27, 2006, 4:33 AM
Paintrain Paintrain is offline
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i think ounce lucas oil opens the area around it will take off

also mass ave has a lot of potential the ips bus barn is up for sale and there were some interesting proposals
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  #19  
Old Posted Dec 27, 2006, 5:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ChicagotoRoanoke View Post
Well.... sure there is plenty of space that can be developed. However, last time I looked there wasn't a list of developers looking to build anything of this size and magnitude in Indy. Let's see as of right now there are uh.... none. The point is a project this size, with potential to change or add to the skyline doesn't come along but once in a great while for Indy. Just stating my opinion that they blew it on this one.
You never know when something else might be proposed. On a side note, speaking of "blowing a project"....do you know the history of Fountain Square West, in downtown Cincinnati? In the original proposal, it was to be the new tallest in the city. But we ended up with a parking lot for several years, and then in the end it became nothing more than a 3-story department store.

Also, we still don't know when or if Queen City Square 2 is going to happen as proposed. Trust me, Indy is not alone. You're not the only city to experience anticipation, hope, and then disappointment.

Last edited by secondson; Dec 27, 2006 at 5:53 AM.
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