Strong Indy Weekly Roundup – 12/3/2018

  1. A new infill project appears to be cleared for the go ahead at the corner of Vermont & Pennsylvania, formerly the Essex Hotel.
  2. The City-County Council and ParkIndy are exploring adjustments to Downtown Indy’s on-street parking strategy (IndyStar).
  3. Indianapolis has seen a terrifying increase in hit-and-run deaths as motorists kill pedestrians/bicyclists and leave them to die (Fox59).
  4. Groups like Bike Indianapolis are looking to change policy to make Indy’s streets safer for vulnerable users (WISH-TV).
  5. There’s still time to donate to CNU-Midwest and help support organizations like us!
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Strong Indy Weekly Update

Apologies for the delay! Here’s this week’s Strong Indy update:

  1. Strong Indy Pub Night is this Thursday! Join us for informal discussion on urbanism, transportation, and land use at the Mayfair Taproom – 6:30 PM. The Taproom is family-friendly!
  2. Bike Indianapolis is hosting the annual Tweed Ride this Saturday! Get your tickets here.
  3. Six pedestrians were killed in Indianapolis in just three weeks as Indy’s street safety crisis continues.
  4. IndyGo, Marian University, and Indy Reads are hosting “Stories of Indianapolis Transit” to tell the story of how transit connects communities, literally and figuratively. Sign ups for the event is now open.
  5. Urban Design in the Indianapolis Business Journal: There’s too much parking! 
  6. Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors: Metro Indy isn’t building enough townhomes, duplexes, and apartments to meet demand. This is a signal that legalization of transit-oriented development and higher-densities are needed.
  7. Comments are now closed, but you can still review the plans for the Marion County Land Use Plan, Indy Moves, and Pedal Indy (the bike plan update).
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Land Use Part II – Building Places We Love and Place That Love Us Back

In the first installment of this series, we discussed neighborhood identity. However, it is paramount to clarify what this means. What is neighborhood identity and why does it come about? Neighborhood identity is more than just a name. It’s a sense of pride in a neighborhood and a sense of communal responsibility. Indianapolis once had that, but much of it was destroyed with shifts in federal housing and transportation policy, urban renewal, and race-based local land use practices.

Indianapolis – 1941

Indianapolis – 1962

Indianapolis – 1972

Prior to 1972, Indianapolis a numerous, dense communities which fostered strong neighborhood identities. Residents of the communities had immense pride in where they lived, whether they were renters or homeowners. However, which the shifts in policy and white flight, the populations of these neighborhoods were gutted and that sense of identity was lost.

No more is this more apparent than in the neighborhood of Brightwood. Station Street was the neighborhood village’s Main Street. There were shops on the ground floors, housing above, theatres, restaurants, and goods stores to meet the neighborhood’s needs. The primary street was a gathering space for the residents; a place where they could meet their other neighbors, network, support one another, and, at time, celebrate themselves. With the arrival of I-70 in the late 1960s-1970s, a large swath of the population was forcibly displaced and the northern side of the neighborhood was cut off from the southern side. The population shriveled and the neighborhood quickly spiraled into an unstoppable decline. Today, the neighborhood’s residents continue to grapple with the loss of a support network, a lack of a common gathering space, and totally lacking resources within walking distance like the neighborhood once provided. The neighborhood is bordered by overbuilt streets with minimal sidewalks, is chock full of vacant lots and homes, and land use has shifted to favor industrial developments and storage on what was the Main Street.

At Left: Martindale – Brightwood in 1940. At Right – The same location photographed in 2017. 

Another example of this loss is in West Indianapolis. The primary street here was Oliver Street, boarding the General Motors stamping plant. It would be common knowledge to think that the decline of the neighborhood began with the loss of General Motors, but GM did not vacate the space until 1996. The neighborhood’s decline began well before that, with the introduction of I-70 and shifts in aforementioned policy.

Once a separate municipality, West Indianapolis is a neighborhood that sits just across the White River. At its peak, it was home to multiple hotels, two theatres, twelve saloons, apartments, and moderately-dense single-family and duplex housing. In the mid-20th Century, the decline began. All of the former establishments are now gone and the 19th-Century buildings are beyond repair (but some are still standing).

Land use since the loss of these neighborhood centers has been focused on the suburbanization of Indianapolis. Since the 1960s, Indianapolis’s zoning laws have mandated that buildings replacing the older stock have large setbacks and minimum parking requirements; something that none of the older building stock had. Where there has been redevelopment, it has been automobile-oriented in nature; encouraging people to drive to their destinations and forcibly placing resources farther apart from one another, as well as constraining available commercial space for the sake of dedicating more land to parking.

So how can we re-establish our neighborhoods as places where walkable access to resources is paramount and foster places that residents can be proud of? IndyRezone was a good start, but now the City of Indianapolis is working through the process of “changing the land use map” through the Marion County Land Use Plan. The Marion County Land Use Plan is an element of Plan 2020, Indianapolis’s first comprehensive plan to be adopted for the city’s bicentennial. The plan takes the zoning codes implemented as part of IndyRezone to work. The change to the land use map means that the zoning districts that support transit-oriented development, parking reductions, and infill development can actually be applied.

The impacts of these changes certainly wouldn’t be felt overnight. Changing the urban form in a city such as Indianapolis will take years, perhaps decades. However, the results will be neighborhoods that can be loved and love us back. These will be neighborhoods that can be access by foot, public transit, bike, or, dare I say it, scooter. Creating a city of neighborhoods starts with policy; policy that orients the places we need and places we want to the scale of the human foot and publicly accessible transportation services.

Then, and only then, can we begin to regain what we lost. However, we must do so in a manner that is equitable; a manner that is accessible to everyone.

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Strong Indy Weekly Update – October 1, 2018

Good day, everyone!

Strong Indy is going to start something known as the weekly update. Here, you can find the latest news as it relates to urban issues in Indianapolis, Strong Indy, Strong Towns, CNU-Midwest, and others.

Updates for October 1 – October 7, 2018

  1. October’s Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission hearing docket is now available.
  2. The Congress for New Urbanism – Midwest is calling for presentations! Submit your proposal by October 15th for CNU27 in Louisville, KY. More information on submitting proposals can be found on CNU’s website.
  3.  Strong Indy is seeking to create committees in the following topics: Housing/Equity/Inclusivity, Transportation, and Land Use/Urban Design. If you’re interested in joining any of these committees, please reach out to the moderators via the Strong Indy Facebook page.
  4. IndyGo’s Red Line is moving forward! Keep track of progress on the transit agency’s website.
  5. CNU’s latest edition of Public Square is now available with lots of new reading material!
  6. IMPORTANT: IndyMoves and the Marion County Land Use Plan are now both available for public comment. Comments may be provided via the DMD Civic Comment portal.



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The Best Economic Development Policy? Investing in Us.

There has been quite a bit of chatter recently about “big ideas” to change Indianapolis and take us to the “next level.” Not all of these ideas are necessarily bad (making Monument Circle more amenable to pedestrians would be great), but these often come in the form of flashy projects, like an “iconic” architectural feature unique to Indianapolis (which we already have), more stadiums, or other Downtown-based entertainment experiences. But these projects aren’t for Indianapolitans. They’re not even really for out-of-town tourists. They’re for the occasional visitor from the suburbs who wants to visit the city for a night out.

The harsh reality is that we have treated the few walkable neighborhoods with living commercial centers we have left (the ones that weren’t devastated by urban renewal, highways-as-“slum”-clearance, and land use/housing policies that pushed the middle class to the suburbs) as entertainment districts, not functional neighborhoods (keep an eye out for a post on the “Disneyland Effect” in the near future).

If we want to creating a city worth visiting, then we need to create a city worth living in; not the other way around. Indianapolis doesn’t need big, expensive, bold ideas that create a one-time “wow” factor. We need investments in us and for us to create vibrant neighborhoods that have something new to explore around every corner. Modest, targeted investments in our struggling neighborhoods to inspire walkability, bikability, accessibility, housing, public arts (CreateIndy is a good step in that direction), and long-term affordability for small businesses in neighborhood commercial districts should be our strategy.

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Strong Indy Meetup Time!

It has been a while since we had an official Strong Indy meetup. The transition into CNU-Midwest has taken some time but now it’s time to get things going again. Join us as we talk about some upcoming events, ideas, and current issues in Indianapolis.

A BIG thank you is due to Health by Design for hosting us this month! We hope to see you all there!


Please join us on September 19th at 7:00 PM at Health by Design!

Address: 615 N Alabama St #426, Indianapolis, IN 46204

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Strong Indy is now Strong Indy – A Sub-Chapter of CNU: Midwest!

We have some exciting news! Strong Indy is now a sub-chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism – Midwest! This is a big step for Strong Indy as it sets a strong partnership with an established organization, allows us to hold fundraisers, and holds us accountable for future events and set goals. Things are still being touched up on the new website, such as a functionality that will allow Strong Indy members to receive newsletters, but that’s coming!

Keep an eye out for cross-posting from CNU-Midwest relating to events both here and in nearby cities. We’re excited about this new chapter in Strong Indy’s future and we hope you are as well. As part of our new partnership, we highly encourage Strong Indy members to join the Congress or New Urbanism – Midwest and identify their location as Indianapolis. This helps CNU and Strong Indy! If you would like to register with CNU-Midwest, you may visit their registration site. However, this is totally optional. Strong Indy still is, and will remain, an organization that is open to everyone of all walks of life and socioeconomic status.



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New Strong Indy site!

We’re working on moving the Strong Indy website to a new web hosting provider. So this page will stay in its place until we are able to get the site sufficiently moved over. In the meantime, please continue to check out our very active Facebook group as well as follow us on Twitter.

In the meantime, keep doing what you can to make Indy stronger!

Strong Indy logo

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