Friday, September 25, 2009

What's Going In Here?

Roads are taking shape with asphalt paving and several sidewalks have been poured here at the Fort. See all of this has prompted many people to ask, "What's going in here?" Naturally, with construction many people expect to see cool things like buildings. When I answer this question with an enthusiastic . . . (because I AM sometimes overwhelmingly enthusiastic about this project) . . . "We're building new streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and planting a bunch of trees!" Usually, they look at me with disappointment and respond, "But I thought we were getting a library!"

Let me set the record straight. We WANT a Lawrence Library here within Lawrence Village at the Fort and are working with the Mayor and the Marion County Library Association in an effort to make that happen. Unfortunately, in this economy, the process is more difficult, but rest assured that we are still working on it.

As for seeing buildings go up, we need to sell property to developers of those buildings first. And, we are working very hard on doing that, too.

Well, as a Lawrence resident, I've got a wish list of my own and it's closely aligned with both others in the community as well as with the master plan for Lawrence Village at the Fort. We are working to bring in more living options such as apartments, condos and townhomes; more small to medium size businesses with employees who want to get out and walk in these beautiful surroundings; and DEFINITELY more restaurants and retail offerings. With all of the employees and students in the near vicinity, we are desperately underserved when it comes to nice sit-down family-friendly restaurants.

The Reuse Authority participated in the City of Lawrence's recent Community Day at Lawrence Park on September 19. Several people stopped by our "booth" and some even completed a questionnaire asking what they'd like to see out here. Here are some of their responses:

Restaurants: Independantly owned family dining, Olive Garden, Puccini's, Cafe Patachou, Texas Roadhouse, Zest, Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, Rock Bottom, Ruby Tuesday, and a pizza restaurant.

Housing: Condos, townhomes, apartments, lofts

Businesses: Movie theater, farmer's market, artists, library, hair salons, Chase bank

Other: large water fountain, amphiteheater, military memorial monument, indoor/outdoor play area, indoor/outdoor art gallery.

This list doesn't represent the entire list collected. It does represent some pretty good ideas of what the Reuse Authority would like to see out here. What you won't see are the "big box" stores such as Costco and Sam's -- not because we don't like them, but because we are building a smaller, more urban village with buildings that are close to each other, a minimum of two-story, and brick. We are also trying to stay away from "outlots" which are stand-alone restaurants and stores that are located in front of strip centers and malls.

We sincerely appreciate all responses and welcome more ideas! And, please stay tuned for more exciting news, because I guarantee there will be some! (there I go again with that enthusiasm.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Road Construction is a Pain, But the Finished Product Will be Fine . . .

I know how it feels. You're driving along, minding your own business, content that you're going to get to work on time when suddenly, up ahead you see . . . ROAD CLOSED. That ominous, obnoxious and aggravating sign can turn a good mood into a bad one in a split second. Those "Road Closed - Through Traffic Only" signs give hope to the driver who sees this as his opportunity to drive through anyway because after all, he thinks, 'I'm trying to get THROUGH here, aren't I?' Unfortunately, that only means that the road isn't completely finished yet and it's probably a bad thing to drive on it until it is.

Road construction is no fun for the commuter in a hurry, but it's an unfortunate necessity for progress. Especially as it relates here at Fort Harrison.

In May, the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority began mobilization of our $9 million infrastructure construction project for Lawrence Village at the Fort. Trees were cleared, buildings and streets were demolished, and sidewalks, curbs, and existing utilities were removed to make way for new trees, new streets, new sidewalks, new curbs, and new utilities (all of which we put in the ground so we don't have to see those overhead wires anymore.) The aim is to eventually sell remaining property to developers to build new buildings for retail, restaurant, housing, and office users.

In June, we started digging the east drainage pond which curves around the west end of the Benjamin Harrison YMCA. When finished, the pond will feature a quarter mile walking/jogging path around it and will be next to a future park next to Lee Road.

During this month of August, the roads are definitely starting to look more like roads with a lovely coat of lime and sub-base. In fact, one of the contractors described this stone as carpet on the floor of a new home -- getting us nearer to the finished product except you don't really want to walk on this "carpet". We started pouring sidewalks on August 26 at the Ravine on Post Road and we're start pouring curbs on August 31.

When we're done with the Ravine, you'll see a board walk going over what will look like a meandering stream in a bed of large rock (rip rap in construction speak.) We're planting 27 canopy trees and 18 flowering trees in this ravine area as well as 488 shrubs, and over 7,000 perennials and ground cover. The Ravine will be the first park we finish in this project.

By September 3, we should be able to start paving, weather permitting. We'll be able to open Wheeler Avenue, Otis Avenue, Hawkins Road and Birtz Road (from Hawkins south) TO LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY some time in mid September. After everyone's happily attended the Hoosier Outdoor Experience (presented by the Indiana Department of Natural Resource on the weekend of September 26 & 27 at Fort Harrison State Park,) we'll close down 59th Street at Wheeler for the duration of the project.

By the end of October, landscaping and seeding will be complete. Now, just so you know . . . we're not planting sticks to replace the mature trees we unfortunately had to take out. We're planting nearly 400 beautiful flowering and canopy trees that are 4 inches in diameter to begin with. These trees will go in and put that finishing touch on what could be otherwise considered an unexciting project. We're planting 2,300 shrubs and over 23,000 perennials and ground cover in tree wells, rain gardens and street corners. By December 18, we should be completed with the project, ready for vertical development.

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about development opportunities here at Lawrence Village at the Fort, give us a call. We are talking with many developers and users who have expressed interest so hopefully some time soon, we'll be able to shout from the roof tops the good news of new development!

FHRA to Have Booth at Lawrence Community Day

Be sure to attend Lawrence Community Day and Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, September 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Lawrence Community Park. The Fort Harrison Reuse Authority will have a booth with information about the current infrastructure construction at the Fort, project pictures both current and future, as well as candy for the kids! If the candy doesn't lure you to this very fun event, let free food samples from local restaurants do the trick. This is a good time so don't miss it!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fort Benjamin Harrison Fact Sheet

Location Overview
Fort Benjamin Harrison is located in Lawrence, Indiana approximately 12 miles or 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. It contains 2,501 acres of which approximately 1,069 acres is covered by woodlands.

Lawrence Village at the Fort is a mixed use urban environment at Fort Benjamin Harrison promoting community and multi-modal transportation methods. The Village is less than 5 minutes from I 465 and State Road 67 in either direction. Over 28,000 cars per day drive past the Village on 56th Street.

Lawrence, Indiana is the 16th largest city in the State of Indiana with a population of 43,000. Lawrence is within Marion County and is located in the more heavily wooded part of northeast Indianapolis near Geist Reservoir.

Education Overview
Ivy Tech Community College: Fall 2009 Student headcount -- 6,000; 42% of the students live within 10 miles of the Lawrence Campus; Daily average attendance -- 1,800 students.

St. Mary's Child Center: Assists at-risk children through day-care and preschool programs; full-time staff and volunteers.

Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township: Serving 16,000 students; 17th largest district in Indiana.

Cathedral High School: Accredited, private high school serving 1,287 students; 95 faculty members.

Business Overview . . . so far . . .
  • Over 60 businesses
  • 6 bank branches
  • 9 restaurants
  • 3 retail shops
  • 2 overnight lodging

Department of Finance & Accounting Services (DFAS): 5,000 employees

Indiana Army Reserve: 85 full time military and civilian employees and 300 part time employees on the weekends.

Indiana National Guard Lawrence Armory: 61 full time soldiers and 397 part time traditional soldiers.

Commissary and Post Exchange: Over 35,000 military personnel, retirees and their families from across the State of Indiana travel to this PX/Commissary for essential goods and services.

Monarch Beverage: Within a mile from the Fort; employs 600 high paying jobs.

Housing Overview . . . within a 5 mile radius of the Fort
  • 541 Neighborhoods totaling over 67,617 homes
  • Average age: 36
  • Average income per household: $50,007
  • Average # of people per square mile: 300
  • Average # of people per household: 2.6

Benjamin Court Apartments: 55 and over senior living apartments; over 400 units; 100% leased.

Harrison Place Apartments: 307 units; 1-3 bedrooms; 94% leased; market rate prices.

Boston Commons: Over 100 single and double adult homes without children with prices ranging between $200,000 and $275,000.

Lawton Loop Condos: Former Ft. Harrison barracks have been renovated into condos with an average price of $350,000.

Standish Estates: Neighborhood along 56th Street with approximately 30 single family homes starting at $175,000. Historic.

Benjamin Commons: Neighborhood with approximately 236 single family homes starting at $139,000.

Greentree at Ft. Harrison Assisted Living: 58 apartments (as of 2/09 only 6 units available.)

Parks & Recreation Overview
Benjamin Harrison YMCA: A 12,252 member YMCA since 1997; 53% female, 57% male; Average daily visits -- 663 people; Employs 175.

Ft. Harrison State Park & Golf Course: Pete Dye-designed golf course rated number 1 in State; horseback riding, hiking, fishing, picnicing, shelters.

Lawrence Soccer Complex: 21 soccer fields; FC Pride is home club with over 400 kids, 62% of whom live outside the Lawrence area. Three tournaments per year bring in over $1 million to the Lawrence economy.

Lawrence Skate Park

Lawrence Junior Football League

Fall Creek Little League

Lawrence Lions Club League

Lawrence 4th of July Festival: Week-long celebration at the Lawrence Community Park. The celebration includes carnival rides, fireworks, food, live bands and a parade.

Indianapolis Marathon and Mini-Marathon: Over 5,000 people from 42 states visit Lawrence each year for the 2 day event.