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University Park: An Underutilized Public Space

About once a year, I grab a sandwich at Stars and walk to University park to eat. Even on the nicest of days, this prime location draws only a smattering of people. I find this amazing, because it is such an attractive public space. I believe it would be a fine location for street vendors. If this square was in Europe, it would be packed with people selling food. I’m not talking about hot dogs, but higher quality snacks such as fresh bread or kabobs. There might also be diversions such as a life-sized chess board or street performers. When we think about ways to improve our city, it is easy to miss the fact that a few minor changes in areas that are already “nice” could make a major impact.

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12 Responses to “ “University Park: An Underutilized Public Space”

  1. Anonymous says:

    University Park is definitely an underutilized space by the public. One reason may be that downtown residents don’t value green space. This may be a result of many downtown residents coming from rural or suburban areas where green space is abundant and therefore taken for granted.

    While i agree that the park could benefit from food vendors and/or public games, we should be mindful to not artificially re-create an enviroment similar to other urban parks. Indy residents should not need to be taught how to use an urban park. In time, downtown residents will figure out how best to utilize the space. The last thing we need is for Indianapolis Downtown Inc. to get involved and start providing generic offerings like face painting for kids every weekend.

  2. Kevin says:

    Yes, I agree that it should be an organic local movement instead of a top-down fun-zone. I wonder if there are zoning restrictions with the way the park is used?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good question. I would think that food vendors could fairly easily obtain a permit.

    Hopefully, we’ll start to see more activity in the park once the north leg of the Cultural Trail is completed next year. It is also important to keep in mind the library re-opening will certainly have an impact.

  4. & DAGGER says:

    The points by anonymous above are spot on.

    I’m continually amazed that no developers have snatched up the lots around University Park to build residential towers. The view south would be beautiful.

    Just as a side note, one of the old Regional Center Plans envisioned the park surrounded by residential towers.

    The photo you used really shows the potential for northern development. I’d love to see the park surrounded by towers the size of 300 N. Meridian.

  5. & DAGGER says:

    The points by anonymous above are spot on.

    I’m continually amazed that no developers have snatched up the lots around University Park to build residential towers. The view south would be beautiful.

    Just as a side note, one of the old Regional Center Plans envisioned the park surrounded by residential towers.

    The photo you used really shows the potential for northern development. I’d love to see the park surrounded by towers the size of 300 N. Meridian.

  6. Kevin says:

    Thanks to both of you. I remember seeing that old plan with the residential towers. I think that was from the classic 1959 plan.

  7. Marcel Marceau says:

    I’d like more mimes in University Park. And in Indy in general.

  8. Kevin says:

    The people have spoken. Or at least charade-ed.

  9. John M says:

    It’s too bad that there are so many ugly buildings on the Pennsylvania Street side. The Indy Star’s building and the “new” federal building are abominations. While I’m out of my depth, speaking as a complete amateur on a forum frequented by architects and urban planners, it seems that the north side of the federal courthouse is a problem. There isn’t a public enterance on that side, and there is a row of diagonal parking spaces that makes New York Street even wider there. Also, the park is surrounded by busy streets on the three sides most closely connected to downtown. I’ll leave it to your professionals as to what can actually be done about that.

  10. Kevin says:

    Actually John those are excellent thoughts. I’m not an expert either, so you’re more than welcome in placing your concerns here.

  11. The Urbanophile says:

    The War Memorial Plaza is one of the great urban spaces in the entire United States. The only thing missing, as you noted, is people. Part of the problem is that the major activity centers are on the south side of downtown. If you are in an office tower and want to take your lunch outside, you also have the choice of Monument Circle, which is even nicer in many respects.

    I believe there are special restrictions on buildings that front this year. You have to get approval from Indiana War Memorials Commission or some such. While it might be nice to think of this as a mini-Central Park surrounded by towers, that would probably be rejected and I’m not sure it would be great either.

    On the other hand, mixed use mid-rises along Meridian, Penn, Delware, and Illinois that would add a significant residential base to the area might go a long way towards changing this. I don’t believe the city views this for residential, however.

  12. Kevin says:

    That’s true about Monument Circle, and I go there often. Thanks for the comment as always.

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