Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Tale Of Two Georgia Streets

The City of Indianapolis dumped nearly $13 million into a makeover of Georgia Street that transformed a typical downtown city street into an entertainment venue to impress visitors to the city during the Super Bowl. Construction work on the project wreaked havoc on businesses in the area, but the work was completed just in time for the big event. The Star, which is nothing but a mouthpiece for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., paints a very rosy picture of "finishing touches" that are being put on the "makeover":

Georgia Street is gearing up to host several events that will make use of Indianapolis’ newest Downtown outdoor attraction.
The remade three-block stretch still is getting finishing touches following a $12.5 million city project that remade the street by adding a pedestrian boardwalk down the middle. Other additions include decorative lighting, arching structures and retractable Roman shades.
But after a rousing debut as the backbone of Super Bowl village, it’s been slow going, with little outdoor seating and few events so far.
That’s about to change, says Indianapolis Downtown Inc., a public-private partnership hired by the city to manage the street as a venue.
A meeting is set for this afternoon on Georgia Street to update nearby businesses and other stakeholders on its efforts.
The Star's Jon Murray, who is a downtown resident, apparently hasn't ventured down to Georgia Street for a visual inspection of it lately. WISH-TV's David Barras did and this is what he describes:
It was the centerpiece of the Super Bowl Village . But Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis is a mess right now. It's only 5 months old, but it looks like it’s been around for decades.
The $12.5 million makeover seems to be falling apart.
Fallen stainless steel poles scattered at street corners are being removed because trucks have been knocking them down. Sidewalks in spots are being dug up for needed repairs. Oil-stained concrete where cars used to park needs to be cleaned, and wood stain that's supposed to be on the boardwalk has already worn off.
"It needs a little bit more love," said Gordon Cooke, owner of The Pub on the east end of Georgia Street, near Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Cooke's business has survived through it all. Through the original construction, and now the re-do. A redo that includes a needed fix on the street in front of his restaurant that has a problem that hits inside his business.
"It was leaking in the basement toward my kitchen area. They were aware of it at the time, but they wanted to try and get this all done for the Super Bowl and come back and do the repairs later," said Cooke.
Could it be that in the rush to get Georgia Street finished for Super Bowl XLVI, corners were cut?. Nope, said those in charge. It was supposed to be this way.

"Most everything that is happening now is phase two of the original construction plan," said Melissa Thompson, the Georgia Street manager for Indianapolis Downtown Inc.
Phase two? Yeah, right. Georgia Street is now under the control of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. under a foolish plan put forward by the Ballard administration and rubber stamped by our city council. The city transferred control of Georgia Street to IDI, along with a pile of start-up cash even though the city is broke, which will have total control of Georgia Street and will attempt to generate revenues renting it out for special events. Thompson is the former clerk of the council and like her employer has no prior experience managing an entertainment venue.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Excellent side by side comparison of the coverages.

I'm really surprised Jon actually used the word "stakeholders" in his article. That term is used almost exclusively by benefactors of corporate welfare and corporate shakedowns to suggest that others are benefitting from their actions and have a "stake" in what they're doing. Most media types rightly ignore the contrived, slanted term when doing stories.

Unknown said...

Congratulations, republicans, for screwing the public again!

Downtown Indy said...

One news report (I think it was the wrapup on Barris' report) said the latest fixes are not a cost add-on, that it is covered under the original $12.5 mil.

So at least that's a good bit of news, assuming it is true.

Citizen Kane said...

Anybody with two eyes (well, at least one) could clearly see that it was a shoddy project - it was falling apart before the Super Bowl! - but that it par for the course for most infrastructure construction - they will be pouring money into this forever and IDI personnel will continue to draw big salaries but doing nothing and saying even less.