Chatham Arch, Part II: How density management in a historically dense neighborhood could undo its regeneration.

I just published a very lengthy Part II on Urban Indy, as a follow-up to the Part I that I published over there at the end of the year.  It explores in much greater detail the site in question, where a developer is seeking to build a mix of multi-family, retail and townhomes on the site of a long-underutilized school building in the Chatham Arch neighborhood:IMG_6854The developer hopes to capitalize on the thirst for urban living by offering greater density in one of Indianapolis’s most desirable urban neighborhoods.  Here’s a rendering of what the developer is proposing at this site:urban living in Chatham ArchMeanwhile, the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association (CANA) has vociferously opposed it, claiming that it is too dense and not appropriate for the area.  Again.

They’ve done this many times in the past.  Here’s an example on the next block:IMG_6861_editedWhile it’s great to see mixed use (retail on the first floor and residences above), the original intent of the developer was to build a few stories taller.  This is fully appropriate, considering it fronts East Street, a one-way, south-bound collector with reasonably high speeds.  But CANA pushed it down to just two–antithetical not only to urban living but to allowing the developer to make a return on the investment.

Not only does this article explore the potential consequences of shortchanging density in a neighborhood just a mile from the absolute center of Indianapolis, it attempts to explore some of the underlying motives.  To a certain extent, it’s understandable that the long-term residents want to ensure an appealing outcome to a neighborhood they largely rescued from complete neglect in the 1970s and 80s.  But their voices now seem large tone-deaf to the evolving demands of new generation seeking urban living…as well as to what “urban” actually means.  And forcing Chatham Arch into something other than what the prevailing cultural climate seeks could undermine all of CANA’s hard work.

It’s one of the lengthiest articles I’ve written in years, but I’ve broken it into more digestible parts.  Please read–I look forward to the conversation.

2 thoughts on “Chatham Arch, Part II: How density management in a historically dense neighborhood could undo its regeneration.

    1. AmericanDirt Post author

      Thanks Brian. I suspect that the ethos (both the pro-urban and the pseudo-urban NIMBY) will soon migrate to the inner-ring suburbs as those historic landscapes become threatened, either demolition from blight (in the losing inner ring suburbs) or from redevelopment (in the winning ones).

      In fact, in Speedway, Indiana–one of Indy’s two autonomous suburbs that could pass as “inner ring”–the main street has undergone considerable revitalization in recent years, culminating in a recent proposal for a mixed use building of apartments, hotel, and retail, which would give the rest of Main Street a much-need shot in the arm. Yet, rather than seeing the positives from all this investment, local businesses are wigging out about density and loss of parking.


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