Tag Archives: Downtown

Kokomo Construction Roundup: June 2012

Downtown Kokomo

Kokomo-Howard County Public Library Outreach Building

Library Outreach Building (Ross Pierce 6/21/12)

This project has moved along pretty quickly and it seems as though the building exterior is finished as of June 19th, 2012, and only site improvements and construction internally is left for the building. The structure, at the southeast corner of Mulberry and Market Streets, was designed to house the bookmobile vehicles as well as the outreach and collection departments.

Senior Housing Development

Project Sign on Site (5/13/12)

As of the last downtown update, the site was cleared and is ready for the next stage of construction. The 54-unit, $9 million project won a $900,000 tax break earlier this year in March. No set construction start date has been publicized.

Close-up of the rendering on the project sign (Ross Pierce 5/13/12)

PNC Bank Building Facade Improvements

PNC Bank Before (Google Street View)

PNC Bank After (6/21/12)

The PNC Bank Building (northwest corner of Buckeye & Mulberry) Facade renovation is complete and looks quite familiar. There wasn’t much change to the building, just a little bit of updating. Unfortunately, they removed the metal grating that was over the entrance and mixed styles making the building look as if it has dual personalities of a typical Midwestern elementary school (the coordination of the brick and the 1950’s era windows) and an Italian-inspired seaside villa (The Roman arches and columns over the entrance). It does looks clean and updated, but in my opinion it is a toss-up as to whether the improvements are a welcomed change.

Jackson Street Commons

This project is set to break ground on June 28, 2012, and will provide 27 units for homeless veterans. The site is near the intersection of Jackson Street and Market on the northeast corner of downtown Kokomo. The rendering of the project looks promising, although the break in pattern of the windows between the first and upper floors makes me wonder why the developer didn’t continue the window pattern. Given the illustration I’m assuming that the inside of the building was designed then later they turned to design the outside the building, when both the inside and outside should be designed simultaneously. Overall, I’m interested in this new development. The density is exactly what downtown Kokomo needs, and this project is on a site which previously was mostly underdeveloped.

Jackson Street Commons Rendering (Image from Family Service Association of Howard County)

Around Town

Industrial Heritage Trail

This summer, the city extended the trail nearly an additional mile south and improved many of the roadway/trail intersections with new curbs and other traffic calming methods. By the end of the construction season this year, the Industrial Heritage Trail should travel under the US31 bridge over the Kokomo Creek and end near the Hampton Inn & Suites on the southeast side of US31.

New Mural along the Industrial Heritage Trail (Ross Pierce 6/21/12)

Walk of Excellence

On the edge of downtown in Foster Park, the Washington Street Pedestrian & Bike Underpass was reconstructed with more gradual slopes, wider walkways, a new sitting/outlook area with the plan to add new landscaping and paint on the Washington Street Bridge. Also within Foster Park, landscaped medians were built in-between the trail and the access drive, making a better separation between trail users and vehicles.

Washington Street Pedestrian & Bike Underpass (Ross Pierce 6/21/12)

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Downtown Kokomo – Project Park Bench 2012

This month, artist design benches have shown up within downtown Kokomo. The Kokomo Perspective notes that the artists’ theme was “reinvention” and can be seen in many of the benches and were in accordance with the Kokomo Artisan Experience earlier this month. Some benches deciphered reinvention as the improvement of technology bringing a brighter future, while other benches toted earth-friendly and sustainable methods of reinvention.

The benches will be relocated throughout town in city parks and along multi-use paths such as the Industrial Heritage Trail and the Wildcat Walk of Excellence. The timing and theme is somewhat ironic as Mayor Greg Goodnight had interviews and taping this week with CNN Money’s Poppy Harlow on the resurgence of Kokomo in this rough economy.

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Kokomo Construction Roundup: March 2012

It was a beautiful day yesterday and after work I decided to go on a long bike ride. On that ride, I decided to go take a look at how some of the known construction projects downtown are developing. For the first time in what seems like my whole entire life, Kokomo has many different projects going on downtown at the same time. Here are three of the projects that have visible changes as of 3/6/12. As the construction season begins, this list will grow to include some of the other downtown development news.

Kokomo-Howard County Public Library Outreach Building

My first stop was the Outreach Building for the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. To my surprise, the building is coming along quite quickly. You can see that as of yesterday the building’s supports are in place and the shear mass of a building is starting to take shape. From the elevation images and the articles that I’ve come across, the building won’t be a design icon in the downtown district. Although it won’t be the most beautiful building, it does provide density to a block where a parking lot previously sat.  It does provide a good street wall to both Market and Mulberry Streets, which helps enclose the street and promotes walkability. One of the MAJOR design flaws is how close the building is to the neighboring structures and doesn’t fit in well with the previously existing urban fabric in that area. The building’s orientation is exactly how I would have designed it, but I would have had more visible facade changes to mimic the existing look and feel of the surrounding structures. This is just a cookie cutter building that doesn’t provide much value and similar if not exact replicas of this structure could be found in an infinite number of communities in the world.

More on the Library Outreach Building is here in a Kokomo Tribune article.

Senior Housing Development

The Senior Housing development that I’ve previously highlighted on this blog, got some great news recently that will help get this project rolling. According to the most recent Kokomo Perspective and Kokomo Tribune newspapers, the St. Mary Development Corp. received a federal rental housing tax credit of $900,429 in addition to a $250,000 loan both from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Within the past couple weeks, the site has been cleared and the old Hoosier Wholesale building was demolished. Site prep is ongoing and construction should begin on the $9 million project this July with a completion date in 2013.

PNC Bank Facade Improvement

Another urban design improvement downtown is the facade improvement of the PNC bank at the corner of Mulberry and Buckeye Streets. This one has a bit of mystery behind it as I have no idea how the end result will turn out. If a certain development firm is in control of it, I’m sure it will end badly, disastrous, ugly or  tasteless. I’ll get more into that in a blog entry at a later date… As for right now all we have is the facade with orange fencing near the base awaiting for construction.

Not exactly a “downtown” project but I am most certainly excited for the extension of the Industrial Heritage Trail: The current southern terminus (Boulevard) pictured below facing south to the potential future IHT extension.

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UPDATE: Sycamore Commons Convenience Store proposed for “Manetoowa” Parcel

"Manetoowa" sitting in front of the proposed site (Image: http://www.waymarking.com)

According to a article in the Kokomo Tribune on 12/20/11, Fortune Management is proposing to build a convenience store on the lot where the Indian Maiden statue is currently located. The development could provide everyday necessities that would normally not be within walking distance for people living east of downtown. The project is also located at an important automobile and bicycling route within downtown Kokomo, which “ups the stakes,” creating certain expectations on a currently empty site. Continue reading

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Greg Goodnight’s positive effect on the City of Kokomo

Kokomo’s Mayor, Greg Goodnight, is up for reelection tomorrow. Many reasons noted by unions for backing Goodnight for reelection is because of his dedication for quality of life issues and retaining and attracting new business to the city of Kokomo. Here are some of the reasons why I support Greg Goodnight:

The City Line & alternative transportation

Before Greg Goodnight was mayor, the city of Kokomo was one of the largest cities in Indiana without a free or low-cost public transportation option. (Source) The city itself has been lacking a mass transit source for over 40 years, and has been relying solely on automotive transportation and within the past 10 years has just begun delving into alternative transportation sources. Under Greg Goodnight’s reign as mayor, the city of Kokomo has seen the birth of the City Line trolley as well as a mile and a half of new multi-use pathways and 5.5 miles of bike lanes within the last year. The city created the Industrial Heritage Trail, a rail-with-trail project that cleaned up an unused railroad line creating a safer place for people to bike as well as beautifying a formerly littered industrial area of the city. In the past year to 2 years, the city essentially created alternative transportation infrastructure, catching Kokomo up to other similarly sized cities that already have these amenities in place.

Downtown Revitalization

In the past 4 years the city has seen some tremendous things happen in downtown Kokomo. For the first time in years, the majority of the downtown area had new pavement at the same time as well as a reduction in sign and street clutter and the introduction of the “bump-out” to the “City of Firsts.” Our downtown hasn’t looked better than it does now. With the creation of the “Riverfront District,” downtown Kokomo has seen an influx of businesses making downtown a more attractive business location. With the removal of 4 one-way streets that often confused drivers and deterred customers, the city is more accessible by all modes of transit.

Business Growth

Under Greg Goodnight, the city has attracted new businesses and the opening of many new stores and restaurants. New businesses includes a $25 Million Delphi expansion, Carney-Echelbarger Machining relocating to Kokomo, Angie Meyer’s Design Studio, Planet Mind Learning Store, Comics Cubed, MC Sports, a relocation of Artworks to downtown, Westwind Wood Specialities and a $5 Million Fed-Ex expansion. Some of the eating establishments include Cook MacDougals, Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle, The Vault, Hibachi Grill, Whisky Creek, Supreme Buffet, and two “Green” Subway’s.

What do you want in a community? Do you want to be able to walk to vibrant business districts? Ride your bike safely, any time of day, to work or for recreation? Greg Goodnight has been a forward-thinking mayor compared to past mayors and the city as a whole has benefited from his guidance. As I illustrated in this post, Greg Goodnight has removed Kokomo from the Forbe’s list of fastest dying towns and became the Community of the Year according to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. We need to continue that success for the next four years, instead of relying on someone who clearly doesn’t know the demands of running a municipal government like Scott Kern.

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I had a dream, a dream where a Subway was in downtown Kokomo

The other night I had the strangest dream where I was doing something in downtown Kokomo and I was riding my bike by a Subway restaurant and in my dream I thought, “Wait a minute, this is a dream. A downtown Subway would be crazy.” As everyone knows, dreams are strange and oftentimes we don’t remember many of the details. Of that dream, I only remember the “strange” detail about the Subway downtown. When I woke up the next morning, I remembered my dream and how extremely ordinary and doable the who dream was.

Funny thing is, I don’t particularly love Subway, I think I view it as a potential starting off point to getting more eating options in the center of the city. Currently, Subway has more stores than McDonalds in the United States. According to ezlocal.com, there are 23,000 Subway locations, while McDonalds has around 14,000 stores as of June 2010. Subway has a history of locations in small and big downtowns alike, renovating existing buildings or building new buildings with decent urban design.

Here is an image of a new-build Subway restaurant in downtown Muncie.

Downtown Muncie Subway (Image: Google Street View 9/6/11)

Continue reading

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Urban Bike Etiquette

In the past year or so Kokomo has seen quite a lot of bike friendly infrastructure improvements, and as I’ve seen, many people don’t quite know the do’s and don’ts when it comes to biking within an urban area. Some of these tips are somewhat common sense, but it is nice to look at ways to make riding in the city safer.

Biking Etiquette

Here are some widely accepted rules for bike etiquette via the city.milwaukee.gov:

Traveling Through an intersection

This tip is something that comes naturally when you start to ride on busy roads. I found out that if I put myself in the center of the travel lane, cars won’t try to speed past me or turn abruptly into me, otherwise known as the “Right Hook.”

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Making a Left Hand turn

The following images illustrates 2 easy tips when making a left turn. As you see, these two tips are exactly what a car should do when making the same movement through traffic.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Watch out for parked cars

This is one of the things that I am worried about when I ride on many of the city’s new bike lanes. I constantly visualize that image of the NYC biker riding down a busy street when a taxicab door opens and injures the biker. Keep a look out! When vehicular traffic isn’t busy, I will try to ride as close to the vehicular lanes instead of the parked cars-or I ride outside the “door zone” like it shows in the following pictures to distance myself from car doors.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

NEVER ride against traffic

This one of the tips that has changed in my opinion in the past couple years. When I was growing up, there was a different mindset about biking in the city. I grew up being told that I should ride my bike against traffic so that I could see the cars and they could see me, instead of cars speeding up behind me. Then again, I could have been given the wrong information. Now, bikes are widely viewed as a form of transportation; we keep bikes going in the same direction of cars as a safety issue for both cars and bicyclists.

This is one of the rules that I see broken the most. I have even seen bicyclists ride against traffic, in vehicular lanes when there are bike lanes available on both sides of the street. In my opinion, this rule continues to apply to bikers when there are bike lanes. I’ve noticed bike lanes being used as a sidewalk would, which is not how they should be used. Bike lanes should be used in accordance to the direction of traffic on that side of the street.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

When Approaching a Four-way Stop

This tip highlights two issues one might have when coming to a four-way stop.

“Stoptional”

Depending on where you are, sometimes it is common for bicyclists to blow through stop signs should there not be any vehicles nearby to keep up momentum. In come cities, bicyclists use stop signs as “yield” signs instead of coming to a complete stop. For me, it depends on the intersection entirely. I ride by the “stoptional” idea of vehicular stop signs as optional. If the intersection is busy, I obey the rules of the road entirely just as if I were a car. If it is a residential street and I have good sight clearance, I might blow through the stop sign without slowing down. To be the safest while riding in the city, riders should make a complete stop at stop signs.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Ride Predictably

I oftentimes have a hard time following this rule. Sometimes on timid streets, there are very few cars parked on-street. I tend to ride as close to the edge of the street wherever I ride unless there is a bike lane, so sometimes I find myself doing exactly what is said not to do.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Biking on the sidewalk

This is one of the tips that is DEFINITELY not followed in cities like Kokomo where there isn’t very much pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks:

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

This first tip is not accurate in the state of Indiana. It is not illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, although I’ve always found that if there is a possibility of high pedestrian traffic (ie, downtown or in a village setting), I refrain from the sidewalk. I keep off the sidewalks in almost every occasion, except when I find that riding on the street is impossible or unbearable. The only time I will ride a bike on the sidewalk is on extremely busy streets like Sycamore and Washington, here in the city of Kokomo. Sycamore is a poorly designed 2 lane highway that only services the needs of automobiles, and Washington is also a highway but with four lanes.

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Senior Citizen Housing development coming to downtown Kokomo

Yesterday in the Kokomo Perspective a new development downtown was revealed on a currently dilapidated parcel near the Railroad Station district of downtown Kokomo. The project includes 50-70 units in a 3-4 story building located at the intersection of Washington and Taylor Streets across the road from the Masonic Temple. The project was mentioned here in the Kokomo Tribune.

Senior Housing Site Plan (Image: Redrawn by Ross Pierce 8/8/11)

Continue reading

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Opinion Post: Buckeye Street Mural

Mural on Buckeye Street (Image: Ross Pierce 7/5/11)

I want your opinion. I am on the fence about this new mural in downtown Kokomo. The mural took the place of parts of boarded up old windows on a building on Courthouse Square. Continue reading

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Crossing Washington

With the Haynes-Apperson festival this weekend, the city of Kokomo will expect to see hoards of people coming downtown, many of which will cross Washington Street, a busy 4-laned roadway. All the recent road construction downtown made it more pedestrian and bike-friendly, but people who live nearby in the Old Silk Stocking Neighborhood are cut off from downtown because the thought of crossing the busy road makes people anxious. I had a funny thought the other day. Whenever I see people crossing Washington Street at the Sycamore Street intersection they often look as if they are crossing an illegal border, oftentimes hurrying across either roadway seeming like they are trying to not be seen. This problem made me think about what changes could be made to comfort pedestrians and bicyclists along Washington Street and the many side streets near downtown. With small changes, we could see more people walking and biking to the central business district, which in turn would benefit Kokomo.

Desired Pedestrian Connection with Three busy intersections (Image: Ross Pierce 6/29/11)

Continue reading

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