Master Plan Vision Connecting the Neighborhood, River, and Downtown Presented as Possibility
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WASHINGTON (June 27, 2011) – An advisory services panel from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently offered recommendations on the redevelopment of the soon-to-be-vacant General Motors (GM) Stamping Plant site southwest of downtown Indianapolis. During its six-day visit last week, the panel focused on providing advice about how to best position the shuttering GM site so that it remains a productive part of the city’s urban fabric.
After a week of analyzing the site and interviewing over seventy-five local citizens, the panel presented their recommendations to a crowd of more than 100 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown on Friday morning. Panelists suggested that site be transformed into a downtown neighborhood connected by an iconic bridge across the White River to the City’s central business district.
“Our vision for the redevelopment of the site is a mixed-use, coherent, sustainable urban neighborhood linked to both the river and the downtown,” said Senior Fellow Emeritus and former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut. “We want it to be an identifiable special place in the tapestry of Indianapolis neighborhoods, in keeping with the feeling in the City that downtown is everyone’s neighborhood. To accomplish this task will require skill, resources, patience, perseverance, optimism, and a willingness to take a sizeable risk.”
The panel laid out a master plan vision which includes four components:
- Create a new downtown pedestrian friendly mixed use neighborhood
- Embrace the White River by extending and expanding the White River Park
- Create an exciting destination in the new neighborhood
- Find an iconic symbol that celebrates the city’s embrace of this new neighborhood
The panel offered city officials a master plan vision that includes a school and mixed-income housing for people of all ages. Additionally, the panel said that office space and street-level retail shopping would help revitalize the area so that it is attractive for artists, startup companies, and new businesses. However, the panel stressed the importance of preserving certain historical aspects of the site’s building by turning one section into a memorial park that would be themed with the history and importance of the automobile to the growth and character of Indianapolis. The panel’s other recommendations includes a riverfront park as well as a recreational/health facility. The panel said that the plan would likely take 10 to 15 years to complete.
The panel was sponsored by City of Indianapolis and Develop Indy, the city’s economic development organization. In his 2011 State of the City speech, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced plans to bring in a ULI panel of experts to help devise a plan for repurposing the 102-acre site after the plant permanently shuts its doors on June 30. Since General Motor Company’s January 2011 announcement to close their GM Stamping Plant, located west of downtown, the city realized the need to revitalize the well situated property. The plant, which first opened in 1930, employed a workforce of nearly 5,000 at its peak. Since that time, staff has been reduced to almost 700 which was followed by a 2009 bankruptcy filing.
“I want to thank the Urban Land Institute and all the members of the Reuse Commission for their thorough analysis and their engagement with the community,” said Ballard in a statement. “ULI’s recommendations are the result of a well-researched, well-thought-out assessment. The redevelopment of the 100-acre GM Stamping Plant site is a great opportunity for Indianapolis that only happens once in a generation and represents the kind of bold moves our city has a history of making for the betterment of our community.”
The panel was organized through ULI’s advisory services program, in which the Institute assembles experts in the fields of real estate, land use and infrastructure planning to participate as volunteers on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies.
Past sponsors of ULI advisory services panels include: federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; non-profit community groups; environmental organizations; and economic development agencies. Over the years, the program has been a leader in offering redevelopment advice for challenges across the country, including recommendations for Oklahoma City after the 1995 federal building bombing; Minneapolis following the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in 2007; Lower Manhattan after the 9-11 terrorist attacks; and the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.