38th St from Fairgrounds to Central Ave
The meeting opened with a brief description of the efforts of the Meridian Kessler Plan Committee to hold a series of Neighbor Discussions in an effort to commit to writing the visions/wishes/goals for the neighborhood as heard from residents/business owners/neighborhood groups. It was pointed out that the Plan consisted of the concept of “Form Based Code” which would be described in more detail by Kathleen Blackham, senior planner for DMD, as well as 2 parallel efforts of: Preparing a 25 year vision plan for Infrastructure issues in Meridian Kessler; and Compiling what sorts of enterprises neighbors might welcome to their particular blocks, and what businesses they would distinctly want to avoid.
Justin Armstrong of the State Fairgrounds spoke briefly indicating he was there to hear neighbor concerns as well as to note that the State Fair Commission was interested in becoming more actively involved in neighborhood issues.
Kathleen Blackham opened the discussion with a brief description of Form Based Code; in essence, a visual tool which will serve as an overlay to our current zoning guidelines, and will embrace the “look and feel” of our neighborhood streets and structures. Building heights, setbacks, streetscapes, etc. will be encompassed in this plan, which in and of itself, will not specify the types of businesses/occupants the buildings will hold. Kathleen also presented the current Indy Connect Transit Plan map to attendees.
Suggestions of “mixed use”–office/retail first floor, residential upper floors–was repeatedly mentioned as an acceptable use of the structures on 38th St. There was discussion of heights of buildings–although one neighbor mentioned >5 stories might be acceptable, it seemed more acceptable to the group to limit height to 4 stories in an effort to avoid a feeling of crowding at street level. Billboards, protected under current “grandfather” zoning, will be otherwise discouraged. Existing building setbacks are felt to be appropriate, but all would like to see the streetscape/setbacks better enhanced.
Mention was made of the lovely bird sanctuary situated on the south side of 38th in the Watson McCord Neighborhood. All agreed that the preservation of this sanctuary needs to be considered in all discussions of development along 38th St.
The existing old Monon Train Station/property might be refurbished for a bicycle stop/rental/exchange use, taking advantage of its placement on the Monon Trail.
Specific to 38th and College, suggestions included:
Encouraging owners to seek facade grants in an effort to make their buildings more visually appealing and hence more likely to find tenants.
Again, mixed use purposes was the prevailing theme as to use.
Attendees agreed that any use which was highly functional for the neighborhood could be acceptable. Specific needs include a grocery store. It was noted that neither Marsh nor Aldi’s would locate within 3 miles of an existing store, hence they would not be willing to come to this area. Trader Joe’s was mentioned with great enthusiasm, although it is unknown how willing they would be to add a third location in Indianapolis.
A boutique restaurant, similar to Recess, would be welcome
Since 38th St is a major thoroughfare, placement of a transit hub station with landscaped parking could exist at that intersection.
The idea of the creation of a “Green District” was introduced. The concept would be to create a unique “niche” in this area in an effort to draw in young entrepreneurs and tenants such as art studio/gallery owners. This district could include exclusive use of renewable energy sources, emphasize public transit (an ideal location for this concept), and promote permeable pavements, rain gardens, etc. as an example of how our city could develop in the future. Karl Selm, MKP Steering Committee member/urban planner with an emphasis on green development will work with neighbor Jon Zeh to form a team to explore this further.
Parallel to the concept of a “Green District”, it was suggested the city be approached to extend the Cultural Trail along the length of 38th St. Since it is widely acknowledged that the city’s north/south access for pedestrian/bicycle travel is improving, we still lack good east/west access. 38th St could be ideal for this purpose, extending from the Fairgrounds to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
“Deal breakers” in terms of development include:
Cash and pawn stores
No more chain pharmacies than those already present
Specific to 38th St from College to Central Ave
It was suggested we have a goal of rehabilitating and reusing existing residential stock. Mention was made of repair and reuse of the charming, former gas station/Pesco building on the southwest corner of Central and 38th. It is currently designated as a brownfield, and Kathleen indicated she would explore possible city funds which could help with the remediation.
We need to carefully attend to signage
The median structures are in dire need of maintenance
There is a general need for improved landscaping/streetscape improvements.
MKNA will work closely with Health and Hospital to hold irresponsible landlords to task to keep properties in good repair as well as identify properties held y the Indy Land Bank so that the neighborhood can participate in the outcome of the disposition of these properties.
The meeting closed with the timeline of our Meridian Kessler Plan. From the minutes of our Neighbor Discussions, Kathleen Blackham will create a narrative called the “Neighborhood Plan”. This narrative will be added to those already created in our ongoing meetings with neighbors. Over the next several months, Kathleen will then direct a team to acquire the measurements (setbacks, sidewalks, curb cuts), necessary for the next phase which involves the hiring of an architect/architectural intern to make drawings incorporating all the above. Our MKP Steering Committee volunteer architects will work with this intern in these conceptual drawings. From all this information, the DMD will create a Regulating Plan which will codify these concepts. This Regulating Plan will then be presented for approval by MKNA, and finally by the City-County Council, where it will become the official overlay of our current Zoning Plan. Throughout all this process, each step will be made public for neighbors to see and have input. General consensus within the neighborhood will be a vital part of this process!