Returning the Near South to Downtown Indianapolis: Daylighting Pogue’s Run, A Plan for Urban Renewal

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With its effective interstate highway system, Indianapolis has experienced rampant suburban growth, leaving the core hollow from urban decay. The Near South, with its large swaths of vacant lots, is one of the most empty and underutilized areas of downtown. This master plan hinges around the daylighting of Pogue’s Run as a catalyst for urban renewal while also addressing significant population, transportation, open space, and stormwater issues.

Today, the Near South, particularly the southern half, sits largely vacant and abandoned. To the northeast and west some of the old factory buildings remain, though many have been demolished, with huge complexes such as State Surplus, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Post Office built in their place. Yet despite this character of neglect, it is within walking distance of countless downtown amenities and destinations, including: Monument Circle, Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Union Station, Indiana Convention Center, Victory Field, Circle Centre Mall, White River State Park, and numerous museums, shops, restaurants, and hotels. A city is only as strong as its weakest link. If downtown Indianapolis is to become a more viable urban core, a strategy must be implemented to revitalize the Near South.

Design and Implementation
The overall master plan includes four primary networks: residential, commercial, Pogue’s Run daylight, and recreational open space. The green space network connects directly to the White River State Park. From along the river, three green fingers extend east, integrating into the urban fabric. Sport venues, such as the sports park along the river and the open-air stadium along McCarty, can host large events but become neighborhood amenities when not in use. The residential network connects to existing pockets of homes, implementing a substantial amount of infill and creating a new public school to serve the increase in residents. Infill was carefully integrated to create a mix of densities, with higher densities concentrated along main roads. The commercial network also connects the existing pockets along Meridian and Lucas Oil. Stadium Plaza, just south of the stadium, becomes the heart of the Near South, with Pogue’s Run, the stadium, and nearby storefronts all interacting to create an active and dynamic urban space.

Pogue’s Run Daylight
Daylighting Pogue’s Run has tremendous social and environmental impacts. Though much of the historic character of the Near South has been demolished, Pogue’s Run is a key historical feature that remains intact today. In addition to providing a unifying element needed for a cultural district, the stream acts as a catalyst, drawing people to and through the area, benefiting local businesses and enlivening the neighborhood. It also provides critical flood control, as the existing culvert is undersized and flooding occurs at the bottleneck point, where the stream goes underground. Most importantly, bringing Pogue’s Run to the surface and returning it to a natural, meandering, and vegetated state immeasurably increases its wildlife value and water quality.

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