Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bridging Old And New

Walkway a win-win
It will benefit both the Embassy and the new hotel

"The city may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more than expected on a $1 million elevated walkway linking the proposed Courtyard by Marriott Hotel with the Embassy Theatre and old Indiana Hotel – a walkway officials say is crucial to the success of the $125 million-to-$160 million Harrison Square development."

"The city’s make-nice approach may do more than keep Harrison Square on schedule: It may also improve the redevelopment potential of the Indiana Hotel, which hosted its last boarders more than 30 years ago."

"The city is considering several incentives in exchange for the Embassy’s willingness to give up most of its third floor for a walkway that would allow visitors to travel indoors from the new hotel at Harrison Street and Jefferson Boulevard, across Harrison though the Indiana Hotel, to the Grand Wayne Convention Center — which is linked to the Embassy by another walkway over Jefferson."

"A small park south of the theater would be redesigned to accommodate the large trucks touring shows often use to carry equipment, costumes, sets and other items. A second stairway and new hotel shafts could be added as well, to bring the 80-year-old building up to code, reducing the cost of redeveloping the remaining four floors.

The improvements could be funded through a previously issued downtown improvement bond or funds already set aside for infrastructure needed for the new hotel."

"So instead of taking the entire floor – a hall and about 22 hotel rooms – the interior walkway will be smaller, leaving precious storage space. The city would be responsible for security and maintenance. And the walkway’s final design must be approved by the Embassy board and the city’s Historic Preservation Review Board. The idea will be to preserve as much of the Embassy as possible, and to make the walkway’s appearance as compatible as possible, said Angie Quinn, an Embassy board member and executive director of the local historic preservation group ARCH."

"The Embassy is being asked to give up a lot, Quinn said, and she’s right. Instead of five floors available for reuse as condos, apartments, offices or even a hotel, there will be only four. That’s about 7,000 square feet of revenue-generating space that won’t be available to potential developers.

But what remains should be more attractive to developers than before — and a potential windfall to the Embassy Foundation. It’s a deal worth making, for both sides."


Jeff Pruitt said...

It's a lose-lose if you ask me.

We're getting bilked for over $1 Million for something that was/is absolutely not necessary. The city claims it's "crucial to the success of Harrison Square"

Give me a break. The hotel developers knew you the city was in a weak negotiating position and took advantage.

I can't wait for more "wins" like this...

scott s. said...

To me it can work either way.

With the bridge, the chances of the historic Indiana Hotel being redeveloped are greatly increased, which is definitely a worthy goal.

On the other hand, building another walkway just takes people off of the street.

Obviously it's not really necessary to build another walkway and spend that extra money, but at the same time it does provide a good opportunity for an underutilized historic structure.

Jon Swerens said...

Before we rent the reciprocating saws, you can read my response here:

4 reasons to not bust a gaping hole into a historic theater

I think the title telegraphs my opinion.

Zachary said...

I always thought when everyone said Harrison Square was a catalyst project for downtown that meant more people on the sidewalks... not above them...

R. Mike said...

People who enjoy being downtown can avoid this tube, but I agree it seems a shame to do a "partial demo" into the side of the Hotel. The only good tube is the IPFW one. Very necessary, a modern landmark, and bikable!!

Chris said...

It does seem disturbing that they want to put a hole in the facade of a piece of history such as the Embassy. However, there are other positive ways to view it. In the process, the city wants to bring the Indiana Hotel back up to code, which aids in another future development project that has been on people's minds for a long time. Not to mention that, unfortunately, the whole project is not likely to happen without the bridge.

Joe said...

What's more disappointing, the fact that they are placing a walkway into the side of this building, or that the upper floors of this building have been vacant for years? Maybe this will help with the renovation process for this building, but I don't think it will really take that many people off the streets like so many people are worrying about. Yes this building has historical status and many don't want it to be touched, but the upper floors aren't even being used right now! We should feel lucky it's not being torn down.