Sunday, October 11, 2015

Indy Mayoral Candidates Say It's Time To Shift Focus From Downtown To Neighborhoods

We heard it when Mayor Greg Ballard first ran for mayor in 2007. He said then he thought there was too much emphasis on downtown and the professional sports teams, and the city's mayor needed to focus more attention on rebuilding the city's neighborhoods and tackling the problem of abandoned homes. As soon as he saw how fun it was to get free tickets to sporting events and how willing peopel were to shove money in his campaign pockets if he kept the downtown spigot running full blast, he resumed the continued focus on downtown practiced by his predecessors. He received tens of millions of dollars in federal grant money and appointed an abandoned housing tsar, and then proceeded to use the federal grant money as nothing more than a kickback scheme for his campaign contributors. The City now has more, not fewer, abandoned homes.

The Indianapolis Star has a story today discussing how both Democrat Joe Hogsett and Republican Chuck Brewer think it's time to focus more on the city's neighborhoods instead of downtown. "I recall (former Mayor Bill Hudnut) saying this many times, 'you can’t be a suburb of nothing,' " Hogsett said. "I want to add the Hogsett corollary to the Hudnut doctrine: You can’t be a downtown of nothing. A strong downtown will only remain strong if it has thriving neighborhoods around it." Brewer agrees. "Most people will tell you now that Downtown is doing pretty well, and it’s probably time that we shift focus,” he said. “And I think that’s what this next chapter is about in terms of doing things differently." I personally don't believe either of them means what they say. The people bankrolling their campaigns have moved to the far hinterlands of suburbia and could care less what the urban neighborhoods outside of downtown have become. The Star also continues to be the consummate apologist for our current mayor.
In fairness to Mayor Greg Ballard, it isn't as though no efforts have been made. During his last state of the city address in 2014, he stressed the need to rebuild the city's neighborhoods, and announced the $350 million RebuildIndy 2, the second major infrastructure spending program of his tenure. Ballard and the council ultimately settled on a $340 million compromise, earmarked for roads, sidewalks, curbs, parks and swimming pools. 
During his administration, the city also has expanded the use of tax-increment financing across the city to fund neighborhood redevelopment efforts. The most recent, the Avondale Meadows TIF district at 38th and Keystone, was created to spur development of a neighborhood grocery.
Please. All of that spending is aimed at lining the pockets of his campaign contributors. Any small, incremental benefit to neighborhoods has been purely accidental. The stats cited by the Star show how badly things are deteriorating outside of downtown as property values continue to plummet.
Still, the divergent trajectories of Downtown and the rest of the city are palpable. From 2008 to 2013, the median assessed value of residential property downtown increased 9 percent from $170,600 to $185,900, according to data maintained by the Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. In that same period, median assessed residential values across Marion County declined 8.2 percent from $96,800 to $88,900.
Include other types of property, and the divide is even starker. While median Downtown property values increased 10.7 percent, Marion County as a whole declined 8.8 percent.
Residential properties downtown may not look so rosy in a few years after Ballard has foolishly allowed his campaign contributors to slap up all of these cheap apartment buildings all over downtown that are charging high rents. Give them a few years when the newness wears off and the owners fail to keep them up to the standards renters expect for rents that high. Look out. You need only head out to the I-465 beltway to find apartment complex after apartment complex that once were nice places to live that have now become undesirable places to live.


Anonymous said...

The only way Indy prospers is by increasing the total income of its residents, and the total assessed value of property. (OK, that excludes a shift of LOIT to capturing some of the suburban taxes). To do that, you to bring more high earners here, and create places they're willing to live. That means, probably, expanding the areas those folks already live, and that's not just downtown. You also have to attract folks who are likely to become high earners in the future maybe they can't afford downtown now, but they can afford good chunks of Midtown, Broad Ripple, and Irvington. They can afford the expanding ring of neighborhoods around downtown. Those are the "neighborhoods" that we have to focus on for now. They need to be connected to downtown, and they also need to stand alone as places people can live. Almost all have strong neighborhood groups with a vision and the next administration, and administrations that will come afterwards, need to connect with those groups, and stay connected.

Anonymous said...

Having economically and financially raped Center Township with every corporatist, crony insider scheme the RINO Republican Greg Ballard could pummel down Indianapolis taxpayers' throats abetted by an acquiescent Democrat-led City County Council, I guess there are few assets to sell, give away, or pillage.

Gary, you again completely and neatly nail it.

Every corrupt deal the lawless Greg Ballard could push through for his crony millionaire and billionaire masters is still in place. So much for the moans and whimpers of a City County Council in need of political Viagra. IT'S ALL STILL THERE, Councilors no matter what you told us Marion County voters. So, why the hell do we have a City County Council, yet alone pay them? Why the hell do we have laws when only the "little people" paying the taxes are expected to obey them?

The little Peyton Place called "Indianapolis" will go on exactly as it has no matter who is mayor. And the mayor will be Lying Joe Hogsett most likely. Just as corporatist and corrupt as Kyle Walker's lawless Greg Ballard. But that's exactly how both sides want it to be. Get out while you can people... Look at where the alleged movers and shakers live... more live out of county than in.

Anonymous said...

Knowledgeable local real estate people have been asking the question about the current regrowth of the real estate bubble and I've been wondering when that bubble will explode in Indy. It's going to happen and the unsupportable prices downtown could make the area a seller's nightmare.

Thank God I delayed buying downtown in Center Township and not for the coming pricing devaluation which will seem like a buyer bonanza; for quite some time downtown Indy exudes a carnival like Mickey Mouse atmosphere in all those cheap-looking housing structures and micro-sized apartments atop [often empty] commercial spaces, and proliferation of booze and bars. So much for the local "elites'" concerns of what New York thinks of them.

I am betting the answer is that NY is not thinking of Indy... at all. Not even for a quick minute.

Anonymous said...

The population of Center Township was well north of 300,000 as recently as 1960. Today it is estimated at around 145,000. That's up from a low of 142,000 in the 2010 census. Indianapolis is an empty shell and all the fancy buildings downtown have not made a dent in the problem. Where else have I seen this rape the city model? Detroit! That's where. There and St. Louis. Both failed cities. Just like Indianapolis. Can't wait for the pill popper to tell Lyin' Joe that LOS just doesn't cut it, that he needs a new stadium. It's coming. Count on it. And count on Lying Joe to roll over and give it to him.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 2:02, I am with you!!! And you are correct. It's coming, it's coming... the alleged need for a new multimillion dollar sports palace built FREE for our billionaire sports team owners because of the ALLEGED draw of millions for the Indy people.

BS!!!!!!!!!! But it doesn't matter. BLUE INDY ---> STILL HERE! Vision Fleet --->STILL HERE. Useless bike lanes clogging traffic, ruined Broad Ripple Avenue, 50 years of chains to Xerox owned ACS.... and the Councilors abetted the corrupt Greg Ballard every step of the way I don't give a damn how much they deny it.

IT'S STILL HERE COUNCILORS!!! YOU LIE!!!!! I say DISBAND THE COUNCIL. It doesn't do a damn thing but cash its paychecks and support crap like Ballard's ROC etc.

Who actually "owned" the SB2012 legal entity? Who benefitted from that 2012 Super Bowl? Wanna bet the most financially favored were corrupt lawyers.. you know the guys and gals sworn to uphold law and keep it clean...

Thank you RINO Greg Ballard and tool of corrupt attorneys for allowing the deception that forces our City to circle the drain. oh, And I can here it now.. I am a "NUTJOB"... as if any of our City Councilors has been effective at all in keeping the lawless REPUBLICAN mayor in check.

And now comes Lying Joe Hogsett... wow, just wow.

Anonymous said...

Ballad didn't focus all of his (and his funder's) energy in the downtown area.

Let's all remember that 6 million dollar Cricket Field on the far east side that cost much more than 6 million because of slobby budgeting.

Had enough???

Gary R. Welsh said...

It falls within that catch-all sports category he favors over everything else.

Anonymous said...

What this really means is they're going to destroy the roads and quality of living in the neighborhoods by tearing up lanes, installing bike paths on streets and creating Agenda 21 in the rest of the city.

The Indianapolis metro area is being held back by Indianapolis. There's good progress North, South and West, but Indianapolis is dragging down the metro with narrow streets, dense living and congestion.

Anonymous said...

Are you all so negative in everything in life? I'm sure you all hated every step of development that has gone on downtown from the late 1980s until today. I used to come downtown as a teenager in the was a scary and depressing place. Now it's a hub of activity.

You mock the development and investors that are building MF high-density housing. You mock Mass Ave...which has gone from a ghetto to an incredibly high value mixed use area.

There is much work to do, and many struggling areas that are plagued by vacant homes that need razed or auctioned off to other investors. But

I find this entire site a joke, full of old curmudgeons that have basically opposed every step forward. Indy is a great city, that more and more young people are happy to live, work and actively engage in. I'm sorry for some of of you that hate it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon. You offer the tired-old, false argument meme. Anyone opposed to giving massive public subsidies to a handful of political insiders instead of investing in infrastructure and other public improvements that benefit all of the city's residents is against forward progress.