My latest post is at Urban Indy. It features the minor controversy regarding a building going through the redevelopment process in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods on the near south side. The building itself is architecturally unremarkable:
It’s been completely vacant for several years now. It’s not in terribly good shape, and the owner has had little luck finding a buyer who would renovate it. Chances are good that any renovation would cost more than the property is worth, especially since the surrounding Sacred Heart neighborhood is only in the earliest stages of revitalization.
But does that mean it should get demo’d to turn into a gas station? I’m less uncomfortable with the concept of a demolition than with the long-term future of the parcel. Every land speculator in urban areas sees dollar signs when a potential petroleum company comes knocking; even in the most economically distressed areas, they translate to big bucks. But this neighborhood already has four operating gas stations within a mile radius, with one more on the way, only two blocks south of this current site at Meridian and Morris streets. Shabby as this building might be, it is built right up to the corner and offers reasonably good, walkable urban form–certainly better than a gas station’s numerous curb cuts.
The surrounding community is trying to organize to appeal the Hearing Examiner’s ruling in favor of demolition, but the challenge lies in constructing a compelling enough argument, especially when the zoning at this parcel is a very unrestrictive C-4. This tired little blue-collar apartment building may not be a keeper in and of itself, but if offers the walkable urban design that Sacred Heart hopes to retain for itself–and to which a gas station is antithetical.
Feel free to read the full article; comments are always welcome.