Big Ideas for Indy: The Hoosierist Plays Skeptic

While we were busy dreaming up big ideas to improve the city for the August cover package, our columnist had to rain on our parade.

Lafayette Square Renaissance
The plan looks great on paper: Transform down-on-its-luck Lafayette Square Mall into the epicenter of a Westside cultural enclave provisionally called the International Marketplace. How hard could it be? The area already bustles with immigrant-fueled vibrancy, from Bollywood flicks at Georgetown Cinema to Mexican pop acts at The Venue—plus a veritable UN of dining options. Problem is, the attractions are widely scattered and isolated by traffic-choked streets and a sea of parking lots, making them about as “pedestrian friendly” as the median of an interstate.
Closing Monument Circle To Cars
Back in 2010, it looked like the city was fast-tracking a scheme to turn Indy’s Mother Of All Roundabouts into a pedestrian mall. There was even a plan to close Monument Circle to cars for the entire month of August to try it out. But pretty much every affected business raised a stink, complaining that forcing their customers to park someplace else and walk to their doors would hurt their bottom lines. The city scotched the idea, stating that it was “backing off on the timeline.” Which was apparently city-speak for “dropping the matter entirely.” (For more on the Circle, see No. 8 here.)
Extensive Light Rail
A bunch of light rail trains trundling all over Indianapolis would look as adorable as a basket of puppies. Close your eyes and imagine it. Now open your eyes and accept that the only place you’ll likely ever see a complete system of them is in your dreams. It costs about $26.4 million per mile to build, which is probably a non-starter for a city that has trouble fielding a viable bus system (which costs less than half as much per mile as trains). But we can still hope for a single line, right? (See No. 1 here.)
This article appeared in the August 2014 issue.