WTH? Will this hurt? Will this help?

Remove economic motivations, remove excuses, and ask yourself how far has this strayed from its original design? From an aesthetic 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.

This gas station recently opened at 22nd and Delaware Streets, smack between two wonderful neighborhoods, Herron-Morton Place and Fall Creek Place. While much of Fall Creek Place newer construction in-fill and is not labeled as an “historic neighborhood,” there is still evidence its 100+ years as a neighborhood and one of the early Indianapolis suburbs.

We question the grandfathering of old zoning–does this hurt or help rejuvenation of greater downtown neighborhoods? Just because a gas station stood there 60 years ago, should someone be able to reinstall one without neighborhood input? Homes also once stood on that land, if the past helps to determine the future development. Once a parcel has been used in a certain way, should that relegate it to that same sort of use forevermore?

Why is this an issue in an urban area? This article presents excellent points.

16 responses to “WTH: Give Me Gas.”

  1. Jim says:

    It’s a sticky question, of course, and I lack the answer, but I do have two perspectives. First: When I last worked downtown, 20 years ago now, if I was running low on gas when I left work I had to pray very hard that my car would make it outside the Downtown area because there was only one gas station I knew of there and it was well out of my way as I headed toward my Northwestside home.

    Another perspective: A few years ago, a gas station was built at 51st and Michigan Road, on the site of a log cabin (well camouflaged by later additions and a layer of some sort of siding). The cabin was dismantled log by log and stored, which is better than nothing. But it’s not like there’s any shortage of gas stations on the Michigan Road corridor; that gas station was not particularly necessary.

  2. Keith W Brown says:

    Sometimes total opposition to a reworking of a “convience” is not always in the best interest of the neighborhood. Maybe if a concerted effot to the design process was used the “industry standard” design would not have been used. Why could not a design of the station from time period of lets say the 40’s-50’s, with out the massive covering, The service bays doors set as windows for the convience store aspect. Larger footprint to discourage multiple cars parked for run in purchases. If we are going to be a mobile society, then a gas station “near” our home is not a bad thing. Where are the other stations in the area. Also if I’m not mistaken the Station location is in a designed jog in the road, maybe better planting and fencing to soften the look would have been considered. Also why not a low profile sign? Just wondering.

  3. Pete Kuhns says:

    This is a honeypot post. Here I go getting stuck…

    As a downtown resident… If you are the least bit tired of driving 7 miles South/West/East/North for EVERYTHING, you start to appreciate businesses that are willing to take a chance at putting businesses a few blocks from your house.

    I wish the neighbors/city had approved the gas station that was proposed for our neighborhood (The Old Southside) a few months back. Instead they decided to keep the neglected, forgotten street corner – complete with protective glass liquor store and abandoned buiilding – we have currently.

  4. Rebecca Bandy says:

    I agree with everyones comment before me. Just because an area is in transition does not mean it should be only homes. The neighborhood originally had a butcher, green grocer, druggist, livery, etc. THAT is what a neighborhood was. A gas station should be included. Maybe the powers to be should ask for a design of a business to reflect the time period of the houses. You can’t be one-sided when transforming a blighted area . If there are no amenities …people won’t move to the area.

  5. basil berchekas jr says:

    If its SOOO necessary that a “gas station” be built at such a corner in an area that is being revitalized, at least the station should have been built in the style of older stations in, say, the 1920s, to “blend in” better with the surrounding development. It’s similar to the Burger King built north, at West 38th and Capital, in a design that better fits the historic scale of Mapleton, such as being built out to the sidewalk with a different “more urban” design encouraging more walk up trade and relegating their “drive through” to the rear. Maybe the design could have been more in line with a drugstore or other retail business built out to the sidewalk. Instead, the company in a very unthoughtful emanner, plunked down a “suburban” design into the inner city, according to an unthinking “cookie cutter” design, similar to what’s happened with this “gas station” situation adjacent to Fall Creek Place. A similar ridiculous situation occurred several decades ago to Brown’s Hill, a favorite sledding hill on the west edge of Irvington at the southwest corner of Emerson Avenue and East Washington Street; instead of the City acquiring this topographic feature as part of “Pleasant Run Parkway” (which Irvingtonians THOUGHT it was for decades), the City instead approved rezoning (this land was a part of Hilton U Brown’s estate; partly donated to IPS for Howe High School; his old house was still standing in the woods just west of this location) for a gas station, eliminating Brown’s Hill entirely. That location is now a convenience store. Across Emerson another convenience store was built that included the property just south of the intersection that included William Forsyth’s studio, formerly surrounded by gardens and a little timber (similar in situation to the PRESERVED wooded, gardened studio of Thomas Hart Benton in the historic Westport district of Kansas City, Missouri, which is a state historic site). Well, I’ve rambled enough! Tiffany, thank you for your nice HI card I received in the mail!

  6. Steph Mineart says:

    I’m going to oppose this one – there’s a gas station at 25th and College, 16th and Illinois, 9th and Delaware. There are plenty within easy driving distance of this location.

    Along 22nd Street and along 16th street – the need is for some key businesses to cater to the immediate neighborhoods, especially to encourage foot traffic. There’s a lot of residential in Fall Creek Place, Herron-Morton and Old Northside. But residents have to get in their cars and go somewhere to do key things like dining and shopping.

    Grocery stores, storefront retail & restaurants – the kind of businesses that are growing and thriving along Mass Ave. and in Fountain Square – within walkable distance along those two streets would be the idea growth opportunity for the area. They’d have a built in audience from the residential neighborhoods and neighbors would welcome a daily pedestrian destination that is more than just “walk the dog” or “go jogging.”

    Gas stations and fast food restaurants appeal to the people transitioning through an area, not the people living in it. We need to encourage more people to live nearby, not drive by.

  7. Jason Hall says:

    Totally agree. I have lived downtown since 1998. I’m beyond sick of driving out to BFE to buy everything. Also this competition may lower the price for gas for downtown. Not everyone that lives downtown is a millionaire!

  8. Scott Goodwine says:

    It could have at least been designed to fit in with the area . Look at the CVS on Meridian. I would think the King Park Development would have had more say in the design.

  9. Jennifer says:

    What does being a millionaire have to do with anything? There are lots of gas stations around downtown. One dude on the facebook page named them off. I wouldn’t want a big ol birght gas station right next to my house and it really does seem out of place. Of course we all drive cars and need gas, but based on what I see, there are plenty already in that neck of the woods.

    And do the neighborhoods get any say on the subject? Curious.

  10. Robby Slaughter says:

    “Neighborhood input.” In our city and in cities everywhere, decisions about development are mostly made by developers through a process called cronyism. Local members of the community might be surveyed, but they don’t have any real authority.

    Whether this gas station is a good idea or a bad one (or whether building something is better than building nothing) is not as relevant as the long history of a lack of neighborhood input on these decisions.

    In that sense, it won’t help or hurt. It just will be.

  11. Mr D says:

    What if they went full service. Pumped gas and cleaned your windshield and charged .10c less than any other station and gave back to the neighborhood on a weekly time/money basis? Would that be of more interest?

  12. Amy Eddy says:

    I completely agree with Steph’s comment. If you live downtown, you know where the gas stations are and there are plenty already in this area. A gas station at that location doesn’t make any sense at all.

  13. Greg says:

    While I agree that the neighborhoods need more business in a similar vein of Goose The Market, this property already has a gas station on it previously. Because of this, repurposing the property could have proven to be difficult given all the red tape and regulations involved with dealing with the tanks underground from the previous station. This is why you see abandoned gas stations sit for extended periods of time. If it sitting looking like an eyesore or putting a clean new service station there, I choose the service station.

  14. martin says:

    Greg poses the dilemma that Old Northside neighbors are facing with a proposed gas station/convenience store at 16th and Central. There’s strong sentiment against it in the ONS and Herron-Morton, but the site’s been an eyesore for a very long time and nothing’s ever been proposed for the site except a gas station. Is that kind of development any more disincentive than 10 more years of empty, eyesore corner?
    I’m beginning to think not.

  15. basil berchekas jr says:

    What puzzles one is why a business like a coffee shop, small restaurant, or a pharmacy (not one of these “cookie cutter” designs fit for suburban locations either) wouln’t go in here, or even a wine shop or store designed to appeal to the emerging residential neighborhoods surrounding this site? Does it ALWAYS have to be a “convenience store with a “cookie cutter” design not in scale with surrounding development?

  16. Matt says:

    I’m surprised to see such strong support, on this website of all places, for an ugly, suburban-format gas station in these historic neighborhoods. These are some of my favorite neighborhoods in town and this gas station is not an improvement. We could split hairs on whether it’s better to have an abandoned lot or this gas station, but in the end neither are beneficial to the neighborhood.

    As Steph so rightly said: “gas stations and fast food restaurants appeal to the people transitioning through an area, not the people living in it. We need to encourage more people to live nearby, not drive by.” Absolutely spot on.

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