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Old August 24th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #21
randella
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i really liked the original site that was selected (the ford dealership just west of the executive inn) because it would take out a car dealership with little or no demolition of existing buildings. i'm not happy about the four or five historic buildings that will come down with the new location, but i have to say the new location has grown on me.

first, the entrance plaza is directly facing main street which is a pedestrian friendly avenue that will lead right to the arena (and connect with the new hotel and convention center). main street has suffered over the years with all of the new development along the riverfront and that end of main needed something like this to draw people into the city. anyone going to the casino complex on the river can easily walk down main street right to the arena.

although this site wasn't originally one of the three finalists, the head of populous was quoted as saying that if he could have selected any site in the city, this one would have been it.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 06:31 PM   #22
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The main failure of arena design is when they only consider how it functions when an event is hosted. Arenas of this sort lie dormant FAR more often than they are used for an event -- even a major arena like Conseco Fieldhouse in Indy is only used 80-ish days a year -- so it's important to consider how something like that entrance plaza interacts with the surroundings when it isn't chock full of people. That plaza is probably going to be a boring dead zone when nothing is going on, so what could the designers have done to make this special pedestrian space -- it's important to recognize that Main Street frontage is a limited, precious resource -- more interesting the rest of the time?

In the simplest case, they could have saved all those all store fronts and instead put the entrance plaza at the corner of Main and DMLK, which, according to google maps, currently has nothing on it. Even more creative, they could have integrated a sports bar or something into the arena at that corner and put the main entrance at a set-back plaza at mid-block, saving the old structures. That plaza could then have been used for outdoor seating for the sports bar or the building on the other side of the plaza when an event wasn't using the arena (remember, that will be frequent). Or the main entrance could have been on 6th St. instead, activating that street as well. There are lots of alternatives.

The current plan just doesn't seem to recognize the context, specifically the importance of the pedestrian experience of one of the prime pedestrian walkways in all of downtown Evansville. With just some simple tweaks, this plan could be a really, really great asset to Main Street. Instead, it seems like a failed opportunity, and a very expensive one at that.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 07:28 PM   #23
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i saw a news report where the mayor was asked about the location of the plaza area and he responded that it was located there because of the ability to host events and close off main and sixth to vehicle traffic. although i understand what you are saying, i actually like how the plaza is oriented toward the river and opens up the building toward main street. it seems more approachable and inviting.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 07:51 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randella View Post
i saw a news report where the mayor was asked about the location of the plaza area and he responded that it was located there because of the ability to host events and close off main and sixth to vehicle traffic. although i understand what you are saying, i actually like how the plaza is oriented toward the river and opens up the building toward main street. it seems more approachable and inviting.
Yeah, the mayor's line is exactly my point. He's viewing design decisions from the perspective of events (I don't know what they're shooting for, but maybe 50 events a year?), as opposed to year-round, 365-day usage. It's not necessarily wrong, it just isn't likely to be the best use of the space.

Anyway, I hope it turns out well for Evansville -- you really do have a great downtown there.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #25
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i would say the city could expect over 100 events a year... we currently have about 75 events a year with concerts and basketball games, but they will also be adding hockey and additional convention and exhibition business (one of the reasons they attached it to the convention center). time will tell, but glad you added your observations because they are still working everything out.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #26
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CorrND,

I believe they oriented the main entrance towards 6th and Main St so it would face the rest of downtown. Main St essentially ends at MLKB since they built the Civic Center Compound through the middle of it. The big problem I have is where will people park? Are they planing to build a garage adjacent to the arena? There doesn't seem to be anywhere to put one. Do they expect people to use the Civic Center lot? Sadly, that's probably asking too much for most people in Evansville.

As for the buildings there now, can't say I'll miss them much, though I'd gladly replace a few of the buildings on Franklin St. with them.

Last edited by Indymac; August 26th, 2009 at 08:06 AM.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #27
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CorrND,

I believe they oriented the main entrance towards 6th and Main St so it would face the rest of downtown. Main St essentially ends at MLKB since they built the Civic Center Compound through the middle of it. The big problem I have is where will people park? Are there plans to build an adjacent garage? There doesn't seem to be anywhere to put it. Do they expect people to use the Civic Center lot? Sadly, that's probably asking to much for a lot of people in Evansville.

As for the buildings there now, can't say I'll miss them much, though I'd gladly replace a few of the buildings on Franklin St. with them.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 02:14 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indymac View Post
CorrND,

I believe they oriented the main entrance towards 6th and Main St so it would face the rest of downtown. Main St essentially ends at MLKB since they built the Civic Center Compound through the middle of it.
Perhaps you've misinterpreted me. I'm not against having a main entrance on Main St., I'm against their treatment of Main St. The presence of the Civic Center and the fact that it prematurely ends Main St. does not justify pulling back the effective end of Main St. another block. In fact, just the opposite: the Civic Center's location should make it that much more important that Main St. look like an inviting and interesting pedestrian space (no, an arena is not interesting when nothing is going on).

Evansville should view the DMLK/Main intersection as the thing that grabs people from the Civic Center and makes them want to explore Main St. Think big -- San Diego's Gaslamp District could be a template. You even have an arch as an attention-grabber and entrance marker, like San Diego:



It's less than a mile from the Civic Center to the river -- make people want to take the walk.
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The big problem I have is where will people park? Are there plans to build an adjacent garage? There doesn't seem to be anywhere to put it. Do they expect people to use the Civic Center lot? Sadly, that's probably asking to much for a lot of people in Evansville.
See randella's earlier post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by randella View Post
here is a map to the parking plan:
http://www.evansvillegov.org/download/mayors/Vicinity%20Map%202(2009-06-24)%20ORANGE.jpg

note: this plan doesn't include metered parking or other surface lots and garages in the downtown area.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Indymac View Post
As for the buildings there now, can't say I'll miss them much, though I'd gladly replace a few of the buildings on Franklin St. with them.
To each his own.
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Last edited by CorrND; August 26th, 2009 at 02:26 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 05:33 AM   #29
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CorrND raises some excellent points. This arena is going to be an uninviting blank wall even when the place is PACKED inside. Does the smallness of those existing buildings on Main Street make them seem expendable? Would there be more of a protest if they were six or seven stories? What is the current use? The fact remains that they have a far more versatile array of potential uses, even if they're blighted or vacant now. It would be great if the city could buy them and ride it out because some entrepreneur will eventually see potential in those buildings, regardless of the arena. Whether for commercial, retail, or even residential, those uses have the opportunity to generate more consistent pedestrian traffic, even if the overall volume will pale in comparison to the arena at peak times. Consistency is crucial for retail; a strip mall doesn't spring up in Noblesville outside of Deer Creek/Verizon Wireless simply because of the traffic on concert nights--strip malls spring up on the heavily traveled arterials.

A good example of where an arena has failed to enhance an old commercial artery can be seen in Memphis. Beale Street--or at least four blocks of it--remains sort of intact as a testament to the city's blues heritage. (I say "sort of" because it is dotted with none-too-subtle infill and facadectomies, including some where just the facade is standing through careful bracework, while the rest of the building opens to a courtyard or parking lot.) On either side, the neighborhood that helped transform Beale Street into a cultural treasure is more or less gone, sacrificed to make way for the Toyota Arena, FedEx Forum, and the parking structures to serve these two arenas. No doubt it appeared a wise decision in terms of helping Beale Street to flourish after major events. But my suspicion is people would have gone to Beale Street anyway (tourists, at least). Now the rest of the city is in search of a hub and Beale Street feels more like a theme park grafted into a pedestrian no-man's-land that surrounds it.

Compare this to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, perhaps even more tawdry than Beale Street but really one of the most vibrant Main Streets in America. Granted, its much longer than Beale Street (or at least that part of Beale Street that hasn't been ripped apart for urban redevelopment). No redevelopment has taken place along Bourbon because it serves as the historic commercial artery of the French Quarter, and the neighborhood around it is almost completely intact. I could wax about notions of authenticityand how Bourbon feels "real" because it's still part of a neighborhood, but that is just my own personal taste. The truth is, people go to Bourbon Street regardless of major events; they'll walk the 4 blocks from the convention center or the 12 blocks from the Superdome. The Evansville arena will serve its own purpose and may catalyze other development, but humble, incremental development of the type to fill those Main Street storefronts will only flourish on its own terms and can scarcely hope to freeload off of spillover crowds from the arena.

I'm not saying that building a downtown arena is a mistake. But an arena is almost inherently an intrusion that is hostile to pedestrians. I think less emphasis should be spent in site selection in terms of how it relates to the buildings around it, and more should be spent on the architectural value and long-term utility of the structures that might otherwise be sacrificed. (Keep in mind from Indianapolis' history that arenas don't necessarily have the greatest staying power; expansion is frequently and adaptive re-use is always impossible.) The arena will draw crowds on event days regardless of where it's located...at least until it becomes dated or old-fashioned in 20 years. Main Street Evansville will wake up on its own terms, and it will happen through the accretion induced by small buildings such as those in the photo. In this case, the car dealership seems like a better spot for an arena, simply because it's an old dealership. And it would most likely be cheaper to demolish as well.
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Last edited by AmericanDirt; August 27th, 2009 at 05:41 AM.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 06:02 PM   #30
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i disagree about it being an 'uninviting blank wall' with all of the glass and curved areas utilized in the design. it's a wonderful design for any arena... and populous (formerly hok) knows a thing or two about arenas. the bottom line is the city needs a new arena and they are building it at that location because they can connect it to the convention center.

as i have said before, i think the ford dealership would have been the perfect location, but that wasn't a possibility in the end. given that reality this was the best location possible. the four or five buildings that will be taken down are all that remain on that city block (they are surrounded on three sides by a parking lot). it's a small price to pay for such a substantial development that is sure to help restore the rest of main into a vibrant pedestrian corridor.

keep in mind that downtown in general will benefit because it will enable people to take advantage of the casino, restaurants, and bars in the area. evansville is not indianapolis... we had our last arena for over 50 years so this puppy will be around for a while.

Last edited by randella; August 28th, 2009 at 07:22 PM. Reason: add rendering
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Old August 27th, 2009, 07:19 PM   #31
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Quote:
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....we had our last arena for over 50 years so this puppy will be around for a while.
All the more reason to make this one perfect!
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Old August 31st, 2009, 06:09 AM   #32
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Thanks for responding, Randella, and you're right that all that glass should help mitigate the "blank wall" effect. However, I stand firm that an arena is not a very reliable catalyst for a downtown rebirth, especially if the arena is destroying the sort of humble storefront architecture that is usually most amenable to pioneering urban retail. In those puny two-story buildings, rents are cheap, gross leasable area is small, and tenants will often have heavy bargaining rights if a landlord thinks he/she can secure a lease. Thus, the low cost allows entrepreneurs with no more than two coins to rub together to experiment, offering exactly the sort of non-chain specialty goods or services that people are looking for when promoting their downtown as "revitalized". These small buildings may have heavy turnaround, with businesses coming and going every 6-9 months at first, but they are still the stuff that a good retail corridor is made of and can help improve DT through accretions more than an arena will.

An arena simply is not the same as an anchor tenant in a mall, though it seems that people persistently perceive them as such. Department stores are open usually at least 65 hours a week; arenas don't come close. As CorrND said, arenas bring people downtown for special events, but during the 70-80% of the time that nothing will be going on in that arena, the glass will not be much better than a blank wall from the pedestrian perspective. People aren't going to peer in the same way they would with a retail storefront. If anything, sports arenas have one distinctive value in smaller cities that have long suffered from moribund downtowns: they are a guaranteed draw for their events, and they might get people walking around the DT area (for the first time in years for some Evansvillians) precisely to DISCOVER those other two-story buildings that are worth taking a risk for some start-up business. In general the old car dealership still seems like the vastly superior option--you know Evansville far better than I do (I haven't been in over a decade) so you're probably aware of the existing activity around locations A and B--if the dealership seems better to you from an activity standpoint, I can almost guarantee it's also better from a building salvageability standpoint.

For your sake, I hope Evansville isn't Indianapolis: Indy sacrificed a lot of good architecture to build both Conseco Fieldhouse and (I suspect) Market Square Arena before it. And now there are rumblings that the Pacers might leave town! My suspicion is a city such as Evansville, which isn't trying to attract or retain the big-ticket sports teams, will get to see its arena last quite a bit longer than a city like Indy.
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Old September 6th, 2009, 02:04 AM   #33
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the fact that evansville is about to embark on a new downtown arena is amazing... it is the only other city in indiana to have a venue like this outside indianapolis. i know that other cities like south bend and forth wayne have built downtown baseball stadiums, but they can't be used year round or for much more than baseball! i think when this is all said and done it will be a tremendous boon for the city.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 05:38 AM   #34
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the city has commissioned $10k to study the main street properties to see how much of the buildings can be preserved. personally, i think they should save the facades and use them to fill in the holes on main street, but i will wait to see what the study suggests is the best solution.

http://www.14wfie.com/global/story.asp?s=11136450
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Old September 24th, 2009, 08:14 PM   #35
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negotiations on the land continue, but the city is preparing to move forward with the new arena... this week they were testing soil samples for the foundation. street closures will occur at the beginning of october and demolition of the executive inn is expected by mid october.

Last edited by randella; November 11th, 2009 at 10:10 PM. Reason: remove dead link
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Old November 11th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #36
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the executive inn is closing this coming weekend and demolition is expected within weeks. here is the full article from the courier and press:

http://www.courierpress.com/news/200...11web-ExecInn/
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Old December 4th, 2009, 06:10 PM   #37
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the architects involved with the project have released some interior designs for the club room, concourse bar, and suites.









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Old December 7th, 2009, 08:26 PM   #38
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This is going to be a great addition to downtown Evansville. It is really nice to see some other significant projects taking place in Indiana's other cities besides Indy. Fort Wayne got the new ballpark and a potential entertainment complex and Evansville is adding the arena. Hopefully these projects will lead to more positive development and redevelopment in both cities in the future.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 05:07 AM   #39
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demolition of the south tower of the executive inn is scheduled to begin monday... demolition work on smaller buildings and the executive inn's conference rooms and pool areas has already been completed. here is a local television report:

http://www.14wfie.com/global/story.asp?s=11735675
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:24 PM   #40
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here is a live cam of the demolition work on the hotel:

http://www.klenckcompany.com/index_files/Page977.htm
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