Tag Archives: Kokomo

Kokomo High School: Walter Cross Field Perimeter Improvements

As I was driving around town doing a survey of sorts, I wandered over by Kokomo High School and saw some really promising new construction around Walter Cross Field (football/track & field venue). Over the past couple years, the school built a new concession stand and locker room building as well as what I’m assuming is a utility building near the north side of the grandstand. This year, they recolored the new concession and locker room building to match the general color scheme of the school (yellow brick).

New facade color for the Concession/Locker room Building and new entrance building (Ross Pierce 7/5/12)

As you can see in the pictures, the new improvements are more of a two-tone tan color, but definitely blends well with the yellow brick of the school. It looks from the images and the construction at this stage, that the school will be adding parking (justifiably needed if you’ve ever been to a football game there) along Berkley Road, and reorienting the main entrance of the field to the corner of the school drive and Berkley. It also looks as though by the many stone pillars, that the school is forking out some cash on the perimeter fencing.

New Entrance area near the school drive and Berkley Road. (Ross Pierce 7/5/12)

I am confident that the new improvements will definitely give Walter Cross Field a much needed update and will be something the school and community can be proud of for many years to come. I’ll either update or create a follow up picture post once construction moves along further.

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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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Hey Walgreen’s, This is an unacceptable a bike rack

A few days ago, I decided to take the scenic route on my way home from work. On my way to my house, I decided to stop into Walgreen’s to buy a drink for when I got home. I locked my bike to an obviously unattached bike rack only because I decided I could run into the store, buy my drink and get back outside before anyone could possibly steal my bike (and the bike rack). When I came back outside, my bike was still there (phew!) but I decided to take a better look at the bike rack. Not only is the rack not attached to any surface, it was somewhat lightweight. I could pick it up if I wanted to. Below is a picture of the bike rack in question.

This is a perfectly good example of what I would call an unacceptable bike rack. Since it is in the parking lot, someone could easily drive by in a pickup truck, get out and pick up a bike with the bike rack attached. Secondly, this does not shed positive light to its owner. It looks as though they took a railing and welded it to a rusted metal window frame. Not to mention also, should an employee want to ride their bike to work, the bike could still get easily stolen without taking the bike rack. This type of bike rack makes it hard to lock the BODY of the bike so the WHEEL is the one getting locked to this structure. Most bikes nowadays have quick release mechanisms. Mine takes seconds to remove the front tire.

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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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60-Unit IUK Student Housing Complex Approaches Next Hurdle

Potential style of what student housing across from IUK (Image: Kokomo Perspective)

Mecca Companies of South Bend wishes to build a 60-unit student housing complex across the street from Indiana University Kokomo. The project is up for approval with the zoning board for a special exemption and setback variances. If the project moves forward, this would improve IUK’s desireability for prospective freshmen as well as improving the quality of life for current IUK students, which could mean added future development and economic stimulation.

The owner, Annex of Kokomo LLC is asking for variances for setbacks for the front and the rear, a driveway separation variance and a buffer variance on the south and west sides of the property. If the project clears the zoning board hurdle the proposed $7 million 60-unit housing complex could be completed as early as August 2012. 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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Achieving a different kind of Water Quality when city demolishes Dam

When I was finishing up my degree at Ball State University, I first heard that the city decided to demolish the Crystal Street Dam. I was glad to hear that there would be public investment on the quality of our local waterways. In an article released recently in the Kokomo Tribune, this dam has been a drowning hazard for many years, and with the removal will leave only one other piece of infrastructure for canoeists to look out for between eastern Howard County to the Wabash River.

One time when I was younger, I fell into the Wildcat Creek. I came out smelling like a wet dog and remember my clothing was stiff after letting them dry for a short period of time. Needless to say I immediately took a shower after falling in, but even at a young age I knew that the water in the creek was extremely polluted. That was probably more than ten years ago, and I’m not confident that the water quality of the rivers and streams have improved in Howard County or at the state level.

I’m glad that we are trying to improve the experience of the canoeists, but I think that the real issue of our waterways is not being addressed on a state level. Our creeks, rivers and streams have been noted as being polluted with toxins that create reproductive problems in wildlife species, which is passed on to any organism that feasts on the infected individual. Some uneducated or people without means will eat fish they catch in these local waterbodies, and would be ingesting toxins that will reside in their system and change the way their body functions. Now combine that with whatever is in the sewer system should it overflow into the waterway when there is a heavy rainfall. Needless to say this is not how our local water should be.

What used to be a pristine attraction that once influenced early settlers to create new establishments, the quality of our waterways have quickly been degraded and often seen as disgusting, pungent and toxic. We need to see change. We need to plant vegetation to help filter out toxins before they reach rivers and streams, which could help keep geese out of public parks and create habitat for other local animal species. A select few communities have began to create local clean water policies, but without funding and stronger clean water policies at a state level we will not see much change in the quality of our waterways.

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