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Friday, October 8th, 2010

Urbanoscope

Love it or hate it people know Detroit, it’s got that brand … we’re manufacturing, we’re automobile, we’re music, we’re bold, we’re in your face, we’re a little loud – Matt Clayson

Top Stories

1. Restaurant Widow: What’s wrong with Columbus?

2. Gapers Block: A Steel Tree – Return to Pittsburgh – “Every city has its professional boosters, chamber-of-commerce brochures at the ready. Every city has its creative pockets as well. While wonderful in their own right, these are not the main tangibles that point favorably in Pittsburgh’s direction. Pittsburgh’s magic lies in the fact that it doesn’t need any of those selling tactics to sell its greatest asset — its sense of place.”

Indianapolis Parking Meters Update

Today I’d like to highlight another provision of the contract that is bad news. This is the “Adverse Action” clause (Section 14). This is a sort of catch all that says if the city ever does anything that has a material adverse affect on the vendor, they are entitled to have it remedied. If not, the vendor has the option to terminate the agreement and the city has to pay them the fair market value of the remainder of the concession agreement as determined by an independent party. However, there is a floor built into the contract that protects the vendor from the price going down.

What’s interesting about this is that there are some explicit scenarios called out that would trigger this (though the contract doesn’t limit it to these). One is if the state of Indiana implements a parking tax. How could the city possibly agree to a huge potential termination fee that is contingent on what another government agency not in their control does? Admittedly, they are only liable for 50% of the damages in this scenario, but it is a risk.

Second, if the city removes more than 30% of the meters, then it is considered an adverse action. So beyond just the compensation the city has to pay to remove meters, it could be on the hook for a large termination fee if it ever wants to remove a significant number of meters. This further restricts flexibility.

Lastly, I should note that former Mayor Bill Hudnut spoke out against the parking meter lease.

Carmel/Columbus Followup

You may remember the recent article I posted on Carmel, Indiana and the developments there. Well, some of these recently attracted some national attention. The LA Times mentions the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook museum that will be housed in the Palladium performing arts center. And the Financial Times discusses Carmel as a leader in roundabouts. And as a late update, I somehow missed that Tom Vanderbilt also noted Carmel’s roundabout program in Newsweek.

This also makes me hearken back again to my rebranding Columbus post. If you want to attract national attention, you’ve got to have the innovative, agenda setting product for your PR firm to pitch. Carmel did that with its roundabouts and its performing arts center. The latter especially is a speculative, uncertain venture, but that’s part of why they are in the papers.

World and National Roundup

Fast Company: Q&A with Jan Gehl

Nicolai Ouroussoff: In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises – a review of the Masdar development.

Virginia Postrel: No Free Locavore Lunch

NYT: Rail Service Imperiled at the State Level

Richard Longworth: Privatizing – Yes or No?

Human Transit: Can we make density make sense?

NYT: Can we build a brighter shade of green? – A discussion of the Passive House standard.

NYT: Bushwick, Brooklyn – A Neighborhood of Collectives

NYT: Remix Detroit: Artists in Residence

The Milwaukee Drum: How Segregated Is Milwaukee?

Chicago Tribune: CTA sets sights on South Side extension

Crain’s Chicago Business: CTA eyes new system to take fares

Chicago Sun Times: Ex-RTA boss: no expansion funds – “We’ve got to stop raising expectations that we’re going to be able to expand the system”

Daniel Howes: Cost of Detroit Symphony too rich for city

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Planners slam brakes on expanding roads

Here’s a list of 50 videos about urban planning.

Little Known Copenhagen

Here’s a delightful video about cycling in Copenhagen. (If it doesn’t display, click here):

Light Up Indianapolis

You don’t see too many rap videos set in Indianapolis, but here’s a pretty good one from alpha.live (if the video doesn’t display, click here)

Bridge Engineering Fun

Indiana and Kentucky are replacing the Madison-Milton Bridge over the Ohio River. They originally planned to have a ferry service for a year while the old bridge was out of commission. But instead, Walsh Construction of Chicago developed a plans to build the new bridge on temporary piers, route traffic on that while the old superstructure is removed and the piers altered, then roll the new superstructure into place. Total closure time: 10 days. Here’s a time lapse video of a similar project in Canada where a bridge was rolled to a new location in six hours (if the video doesn’t diplay, click here).

The Madison-Milton bridge is far longer and larger than this span. That will be a video to behold. It also makes me think again of creative ways the Metra UP-North bridge line project could be made much less disruptive.

Post Script

From The Geometry of Sprawl.

3 Comments
Topics: Public Policy, Transportation
Cities: Indianapolis

3 Responses to “Urbanoscope”

  1. the urban politician says:

    So the CTA won’t be able to extend the Red Line?

    Shucks!

  2. Maybe they’ll get lucky and pick up some of that $3B from New Jersey.

  3. George Mattei says:

    Aaron:

    Concerning your post on Carmel/Columbus, I understand your point about having innovative things to set a PR agenda, but isn’t there also a danger that you fall into the trap of building the “Next Cool Thing”?

    Lots of places are now building these sorts of things. I am a bit dubious that Carmel is a better place JUST because of these things. I think you would agree. I think that’s the danger of marketing/branding, that you get stuck in trying to LOOK better instead of BEING better. And that requires much more than just building something interesting.

    Conversely, just becasue a place is building these things doen’t mean that they are just getting caught in this trap. There’s a series of nuiances there, how things go together and how the community is looking towards the future, that isn’t easy to capture in an article about roundabouts or play houses.

    I think places need to BE better, and then the marketing will take care of itself.

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