I’ve talked a lot about a different approach to development. One that focuses on the residents and small businesses rather than large developers. It is hard to grasp what that means in reality. What does it mean to think small when it comes to development? How would the residents and small business benefit? Would downtown really look any different? I decided to enlist a professional to help me tell this story through some beautiful architectural renderings.
There are three key aspects to take away:
What you are seeing here is a vision of the Nickel Plate District had we taken a different approach. The development moved even faster than I thought this year but we still have the opportunity to use this new approach moving forward. It is important to state that these renderings represent what I think the city could look like after a decade or so of slow sustainable redevelopment.
The first is the overall size of the buildings. In contrast to the projects being built now (one building covering multiple blocks), you will see a variety of smaller buildings. This accomplishes two things; it gives smaller businesses and developers a greater variety to find the right fit and it allows for more organic change over time. This makes for a constantly changing town square that contributes to a more vibrant city.
Next is the type of structures. While the specific buildings you see are just examples, they are intended to show how we can in many cases use existing structures. Allowing the history to show through, while still renovating or adding to them, preserves the culture this district is supposed to represent. In some cases it makes sense to build new, but the focus should be on allowing business owners and developers creative freedom. The variety this will create over the years will cement the ties people have to the area. This is again, in contrast to the focus on new developments which while very nice looking, do not feel unique to Fishers.
The last part is the most important. Rather than being developed top down by the city and large developers, this area should sprout from the creative minds of the local business owners and developers. The city’s role here is to set up the right environment. So you will see that there are new green spaces and brick streets. These are pedestrian only areas that give us a way to avoid the traffic and have a place to congregate. The city should be entirely focused on creating this infrastructure rather than spending that money on tax breaks and developer loans.
Again, I want to stress that this is not a top down vision but rather how I think bottom up organic growth can result in a culturally significant, and vibrant city center. I don’t buy into the fallacy that without breakneck development we will fall behind. There is nothing wrong with growing at a natural rate by focusing on creating the right environment that attracts people. If people remain the focus, jobs and amenities will follow.
I want to recognize William Stark for lending his professional talents to tell this story!