WTH: No Use Abuse

Written by on November 20, 2013 in WTH - 5 Comments
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This week, let’s consider more than just the physical, but enter into the philosophical also. This large building on 21st Street has been shuttered for 10+ years. Many neighborhoods have similar properties within their boundaries.

Does this hurt or help–having an expansive commercial property in a neighborhood not being used? (At one time, this building was part of a bustling Talbott Village.) Large commercial buildings like this can add or subtract from its neighborhood. What do you think? Should there be limits to how many years a commercial space can be shuttered or is this irrelevant? If you lived by this, what would you hope for its future?

Should there be rules in place for those owning multiple properties or certain kinds of properties? Should there be a statute of limitations on how long buildings can remain vacant in revitalized/ revitalizing neighborhoods? How could people be incentivized? How could this become an asset to its surroundings?  An interesting issue to ponder. Your thoughts?


From a community betterment point of view, is this compatible or incompatible, good or bad, worthy or unworthy  of the fine capital city of Indianapolis?

Please bear in mind: the only purpose of this series is to stand for the appropriate renovation and redevelopment of the built environment of Indianapolis. No malice, no hostility, just an observation and inquiry.


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5 Comments on "WTH: No Use Abuse"

  1. Ronak November 20, 2013 at 7:30 am · Reply

    Why did WTH start adding so many caveats, disclaimers, and questions? I was a fan of WTH simply taking a strong stance on a problem in urban Indianapolis. I can’t imagine anyone answering any of the either-or questions in this post with, “having this abandoned building is DEFINITELY going to help our city.”

    I love that you guys solicit thoughts and questions from the group, but I think it’s okay for Historic Indianapolis to unapologetically declare a few suggestions or ideas for this space, too. I don’t know how else we’re going to get chance without strong stances like that.

  2. basil berchekas jr November 20, 2013 at 10:14 am · Reply

    One, it would be interesting to hear a little more about “Talbott Village” (assume it was a bit north of the John Herron Art Institute or in that immediate vicinity). Two, owners of buildings like this should be encouraged to redevelop them with a community-friendly business adding to the “pedestrian ambience” of an emerging inner city neighborhood undergoing revitalization, maybe even adding some jobs to the local economy.

  3. Tom Huston November 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm · Reply

    Would you prefer a vacant lot? An empty building of architectural, historic or community interest holds the prospect of redevelopment when market conditions justify it. An empty lot may offer the opportunity for infill if (a) the government exercises the right of eminent domain to deprive a property owner of the lawful possession of his property, (b) public money is used for the acquisition, (c) a viable market exists for a new use of the site; and (d) someone is willing to put up the money for a replacement structure. A lot of ifs to be satisfied by people who think they know best about the use of other people’s property. There are numerous commercial buildings around the state that sat empty for decades and have since been rehabilitated and put into productive use. I have never considered it the business of preservationists to encourage the demolition of potentially viable buildings.

  4. pk Briner November 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm · Reply

    I am not familiar with this address, however it seems well taken care of and in good repair. I don’t
    feel the City has any recourse against the OWNER! Taxes paid? it’s the OWNER’S business
    what he does with the property as long as it , as indicated, is taken care of. It’s NOBODY’S business
    whether it is occupied or empty. Owner rights prevail.

  5. Steph Mineart November 21, 2013 at 7:23 am · Reply

    From the property owner’s perspective, as long as they’re keeping the structure sound, it’s their property, and they have considerable rights as property owners. If they simply can’t afford to do anything with the building other than maintain it, what can we do as citizens? They do own it; it would be untoward to suggest that we should be able to seize a building because the owner isn’t making what we feel is proper use of it.

    The only actions we can take are social ones; cultivating a friendly working relationship with the owners and helping to facilitate communication with potential businesses that might be interested in investing in and renting or purchasing the property. That would be an interesting proposition a non-profit: property broker; someone who matches up available empty buildings that aren’t currently listed in the real estate market with small businesses looking for a building in a decent area.

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