Thursday, January 28, 2010

Realizing the Old Greyhound Bus Station's Potential

One of Evansville's downtown treasures is its nostalgic Old Greyhound Bus Station located across from the Old Post Office on the corner or Third and Sycamore. Currently, the building has fallen into disrepair and there is no sign of hope. Luckily, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places list so there is no fear of immediate demolition. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case for the historic Skora building located to the south of the bus station that was razed just a few years ago. I wish I would have had the opportunity to fight to preserve the Skora building but it's too late for that so now we can only look to the positives out of the situation. Two positive things that have come from not just the razing of the Skora building but from the whole non-developed situation around the rest of the site is 1. A farmers market has blossomed on the old Skora building site and 2. There is now plenty of room for a mega development project. So what should become of the Old Greyhound Bus Station and the land surrounding it.

In my previous posts, I have called for the need for a windmill monument, a single high-rise public high school, and a high speed rail station in downtown Evansville. I believe this location could serve any of these three proposals well. However, I firmly believe that the high-rise public high school should be placed next to the public library with some of the civic centers parking lot because its already city owned land, it already has access to library resources, it is farther away from the entertainment district which would eleviate traffic woes, and eventually it would be next to a government services park that would provide for a great outdoors relaxation area for the school. For the windmill monument, I believe it should be placed on the riverfront to the East of the museum where it can harnass the wind coming off the river, serve as a welcome monument to those entering the city, and have plenty of room to grow to the east assuming Sunset Park is properly relocated.

That leaves the high speed rail station as one of my preferred ideas for the site. I will say, I prefer that the Old L & N station be rebuilt on the land between the Lloyd Expressway and Mulzer Stone but I don't see that happening and it would probably take up too much land that would be needed for a future ballpark, marina, riverwalk, and entertainment plaza. Assuming all of that, a high speed rail station should be built within the four blocks that lie empty next to the Old Grey Hound Bus Station. I would prefer a traditional look similar to the Old L & N Station with the possibility of using the bus station itself as the entrance. Ideally, the tracks would run parallel to CSX's down Ohio Street, cross through the Pigeon Creek Riverwalk over elevated tracks, pass behind Casino Aztar, and then cross 1st and 2nd streets into the rail station.

The tracks for the rail station hub would be located below ground. This leaves plenty of more room above ground. One of the main things I would like the city to pursue is a Greyhound Bus Museum. Currently, there is one in Hibbing, Minnesota but that is over 845 miles from here. A Greyhound Bus Museum would bring tourists to Evansville from all over the region and it would compliment the station's history perfectly. Also, I would leave a little room on the site to build a small farmers market in order to keep the newly created farmers market thriving.

Lastly, a few area residents have stated that they would like to see a restaurant at the site. I would take this one step further. If there is room to build an indoor mall on Main Street, I would build one here, with the majority of tenants having a 50's theme.

Overall, I believe that an underground high speed rail station, with a mall, restaurants, and a museum above ground to be the best solution to improve the Old Greyhound Bus Station site. It would take a dilapidated building and make it thrive once more.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Plan To Revitalize Haynie's Corner

I will admit, I have spent very little time in Haynie's Corner. However, I firmly believe that a revitalized Haynie's Corner is essential to a downtown Evansville that lives up to its full potential. With that in mind, it's time for a massive overhaul in the Haynie's Corner District. Luckily, the city is committed to making it a thriving arts community and I have confidence that private, state, and federal grants will provide an ample boost to the revitalization movement.

What should Evansville strive for in a revitalized Haynie's Corner? Personally, I see a lot of the same things in this district as I do in the Bosse Field district. I see a need for an early 1900's theme, a need for every street to be made out of brick instead of concrete, a need for cable cars to transport citizens through the district, and a desperate need for vintage condos and lofts. To go with this, I think Haynie's Corner needs a definitive art based theme, gateway entrances and parks, and statues that depict various art time periods.

Another main issue that needs to be addressed is the condition of the buildings in the district. When I look at some of the art projects that have been done around the country, Museum Plaza in Louisville stands out to me. Louisville's Museum Plaza is a high rise building that will draw tourists to it because of its unique design. I do not believe the opportunity is ripe yet for Evansville to build a building that big in Haynie's Corner yet, but I do believe that Evansville needs to either renovate or construct additional buildings in Haynie's Corner that have a unique flare to it like Musuem Plaza.

What kind of theme should Haynie's Corner have? Coupling the fact that Haynie's Corner is a district focused on art with the idea that it has an annual festival each year, and I can't help but think that a theme similar to New Orlean's French Quarter would fit in very well there. The Alhambra has a great artistic design to it, and I think buildings that resemble the one's in the French Quarter would compliment it very well. Also, the annual festival could be upgraded so that it could include artistic floats in a parade.

If Evansville is serious about revitalizing Haynie's Corner, it needs to make changes to it like the ones I have proposed. If done correctly, a revitalized Haynie's Corner will do wonders for Evansville.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Improving Main Street From The River To Garvin Park

Back in 2001, Evansville conducted and released a master plan of what they would like to see downtown look like. I would have loved to have served the city as a committee member back then and some of my ideas take a master plan idea and improve it. Such is the case for Main Street. If you look on pages 36-42 of the master plan you will see what was recommended for Main Street in the master plan:

I will start with my ideas for Main Street in the riverfront area and move northward.

First of all, I thought it was a terrible mistake for the riverfront Old National Bank Building to have been significantly reduced in height. Evansville needs an even better skyline view, it needs to adopt Smart Growth principles, and it needs to be creative in its architecture. The front of Main Street on the riverfront needs minor redecoration with signs, banners, and flags. It needs to be something that Evansville will look at and be proud of. It also needs to be something that will grab the attention of tourists and retail customers. The entrance to South Street in Philadelphia comes to mind.

For the Main Street blocks between the Civic Center and the riverfront, I like the master plan's idea of turning it into a modern shopping plaza. However, I would like to see that area become not just a shopping center but an entertainment center as well. I have visited Louisville's Fourth Street Live and each time I go I ask myself, could it work in Evansville? I believe it can. I think Main Street should be a combination of Indianapolis' Circle Centre Mall and Louisville's Fourth Street Live. It should have an indoor mall portion that is connected to other buildings by a skybridge similar to Circle Center, but it should also have outdoor retail, restaurants, and live entertainment similar to Fourth Street Live.

The next segment of Main Street, which is from the Civic Center to the Lloyd Expressway, is currently in need of the most attention. In the past few weeks, Woody's at the corner of Main and John streets burnt down and the EVSC has announced they will be moving out of their Civic Centre building. In the master plan, a government services park that would serve as the gateway to downtown from the Lloyd Expressway to the Civic Center was proposed. Now is the time to take advantage of organizations moving out of this pathway in order to ensure that the transition to constructing the park is as painless as possible. I am also in favor of splitting the Civic Center in half and reconnecting all of Main Street. What I am NOT in favor of is the demolition of the Curtis Building. The Curtis Building is historic and is the only building in the government services park area that should remain intact.

The last segment of Main St. is the part that runs from the Lloyd Expressway all the way into Garvin Park. In an earlier post I have already outlined what I would like to see this area look like and what I think developers should do with it.

Overall, I think Main Street needs to implement a trolley/ cable car system that runs all the way up and down Main Street. Back in 2001, I was not in favor of opening up Main Street to traffic but I was in favor of reconnecting Main Street to the rest of the city. By adding trolley/cable cars and dividing up the Civic Center, Evansville will accomplish exactly this without compromising its uniquenesss like the traffic currently does. Lastly, the trolley/cable cars would pay for themselves and draw paying tourists and customers onto the street. It would also be able to connect to other cable car lines and PRT lines that would take people around downtown.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Should Evansville Finance These Projects?

Hopefully, by now you have had time to read through some of the ideas I have listed on here. Some of you are probably saying to yourself, that's a great idea(s) but how can Evansville afford these idea(s)? Since financing has been the main problem that has doomed most projects in this city, I have compiled a funding list for each project that I believe will adequately support each project. However, Evansville has fallen behind most metro cities in the U.S and thus needs one successful public works project like Oklahoma City did.

In 1992, Oklahoma City kicked off a program called MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects)( The first program raised $362 million by creating a one percent sales tax for only a five year period. The program successfully funded nine projects such as renovations to the Civic Center Music Hall, Cox Convention Center and Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, construction of the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, construction of the Ford Center, construction of the "Bricktown Canal," construction of a riverfront and recreational dams for the North Canadian River, construction of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, a new Library/Learning Center, and development of the Oklahoma Spirit Trolleys. MAPS 2 funded public schools and now MAPS 3 has recently passed last december There are 8 projects included the new MAPS proposal: (

◦A new, approximately 70-acre world-class destination park
◦A new rail-based streetcar system, plus potential funding for other rail transit initiatives, such as commuter lines and a transit hub
◦A new downtown convention center
◦Sidewalks to be placed on major streets and near facilities used by the public throughout the City
◦57 miles of new public bicycling and walking trails throughout the City
◦Improvements to the Oklahoma River, including a public whitewater kayaking facility and upgrades intended to achieve the finest rowing racecourse in the world
◦State-of-the-art health and wellness aquatic centers throughout the City designed for senior citizens
◦Improvements to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds

With that being said, I think a MAPS program would do wonders for Evansville. In exchange for 1% of the sales tax, Evansville could complete at least 6-7 of these projects in the first 5 years, and the rest could be in the next MAPS proposal. If you take the MAPS program, reallocate the gas tax from roads to high speed rail and cable cars, set up TIF districts around the canal and riverwalk, sell naming rights to the ballpark, statues and bricks around the ballpark, public schools, uniforms on teachers, and to stations and PODs on the PRT system and you could have every single project I have proposed fully funded and fully supported within the next decade!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How To Provide The Fire Dept With More Funds

Recently, 2 fire stations in Evansville have had to be cut due to lack of funds. Instead of cutting funds from other economic development projects that will help Evansville, I propose a strategy that will allow the fire department itself to generate funds. During my time in Lexington, KY, I ate at a restaurant called FireHouse Subs. FireHouse Subs is a fire fighter themed restaurant created by fire fighters for fire fighters. In fact, they even have a foundation that is dedicated to providing fire departments with adequate amount of equipment and funds. I can't help but wonder, wouldn't a FireHouse Subs look great in the old firehouse on St. Joe road? Wouldn't ones look good next to the 2 current firehouses that are suppose to close? The city could lease the space to Firehouse Subs in exchange for a % of the profits. It would create jobs, economic development, maintain the historic St. Joe firehouse, and provide the EFD with an adequate amount of funds in order to prevent current and/or future station closings.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lower The Property And School Tax Burden On Local Citizens

With a $200 million school budget, the EVSC needs to find alternative funding options from tax revenue. Aside from implementing PRT in place of school buses and building one single complex downtown, the EVSC needs be creative in funding its school operations. In Wisconsin, a public school has already begun selling naming rights to businesses in order to generate revenue. I propose the EVSC do the same. Naming rights to rooms, hallways, buildings, cafeteria space, and school buses should be sold to any business that is not religious, political, or controversial. Also, I believe that the EVSC should implement a dress code for its faculty with naming rights being sold to businesses who wish to put logos on the uniforms.

Recruit Companies That Are Willing To Temporarily Pay Workers On The Same Day As Work

Recently, I attended an event put on by AURORA that showed the video” Where God Left His Shoes.” The video is about a family that struggles to survive because they can’t catch a break and become desperate for money just to live on. This happens every day in Evansville and I want to eliminate this struggle. If a family is in immediate danger of not having enough money to live on, they need to be able to go and work for a company and get paid on the same day temporarily until they can recover. The program could only be available to someone temporarily in order to discourage long term use.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Any company in the program could pay their temporary workers a little less and/or could get a small tax credit for participating in the program.

Build A Windmill Monument

I've been thinking that in order to make downtown Evansville a place that people will remember and want to visit, the city needs to build a skyline view monument. Obviously, the problems up front are 1. Cost 2. height restrictions 3. building something like this that will make enough people want to come to Evansville to see it... Well I think I've come up with an idea that will satisfy all those questions.
I seen on the news the other day that Evansville is in a good place to be a sustainability center of Indiana and the Midwest. With this is mind, I think it would makes sense for downtown to go after sustainability companies like SIREN and create a center big enough to hold an area for tourists to come and see all the new products and iniatives from these companies, and an area large enough for green companies to produce products.
I was doing some research and I see that a windmill only costs $2 million which is pretty reasonable given that the LST platform was around that price as well. However, I would like to see a "wind monument" where the monument is a windmill but it’s slightly bigger so that tourists can go up in it like the Space Needle with an observation deck and maybe even a restaurant. The skyline view of the monument would give Evansville a green image.
Luckily, Evansville has great wind potential and the monument could generate enough electricity to power 330 homes which is why I believe that the city would have a good chance to bring in a private contractor to build this project since the electricity and tourist revenue would offset the costs easily. Next to the monument would be Wind Plaza where the city could put other green companies. Knoxville, TN has the sunsphere, Evansville needs a wind monument!

Here’s how I would pay for it: Private funding

Encourage Small Businesses To Build Around Bosse Field And Main Street

One of the main improvements needed to Evansville is the Bosse Field district. It is a given that Bosse Field is not the future of minor league baseball for the city but it does bring something to the table: history. To improve the district, I would petition the Frontier League to move its head quarters to the area possible in the Crawford Door Sales building. I would also petition Major League Baseball to set up museums commemorating baseball’s Golden Age, the Negro League, the Women’s Baseball League, and Evansville baseball history. I would decorate the district in 1920’s attire, recruit old time businesses, and build cable car tracks that would carry citizens from one end of Main Street to the next. Long term, I believe it would be a good idea to demolish all of the buildings between Garvin Park and 1st Ave and place a miniature Coney Island there.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Casino revenue, TIF funding, State funding, tax breaks for businesses, INDOT funding, 1/2% sales tax.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eliminate All Building Height Restrictions And Build A High-rise Public High School

Building height restrictions hamper the ability of downtown Evansville to attract huge companies that need a lot of office space. They also hamper the EVSC from building a high rise public high school that would combine several current high schools. The EVSC should close as many high schools as possible and build one main school downtown on land currently owned by the city (keep each high schools field though). The school would not interfere with the entertainment district on weekends and would encourage business development around it downtown. If PRT is built with it, the ESVC could lower its budget by cutting some school bus services in favor of PRT.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Use current EVSC funds, sell naming rights to the building, and sell current high school buildings and land.

Establish A Personal Rapid Transit System In Downtown Evansville

( is the next generation of inner city travel, and Evansville has a chance to take the lead over competing cities. As of right now, only Morgantown, WV is the only city with PRT. PRT can safely transport tourists, locals, and business leaders across downtown Evansville. It can even move goods across the network without the need to hire a truck driver. It also costs 1/3 of what light rail costs and can easily pay for itself with fares from riders.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Reallocating part of the gas tax and using fares from riders. I would also sell advertising space at the PRT stations, in the pods, and on the outside of the pods.

Here is the wikipedia article on it
Company Websites

Youtube videos

There are other forms of this as well...

Unfortunately, there have been many people who want to destroy this new technology. Unfortunately it has sometimes been Rail VS PRT and not PRT vs Auto. This debunks all of that...

Build A High Speed Rail Station And Tracks In Downtown Evansville

In my opinion, this is the most important project on the list. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association plans to lay tracks for trains that will travel at speeds greater than 220 mph across the region. Unfortunately, Evansville appears to be left out Evansville should immediately join not only the Midwest High Speed Rail Association but the Indiana High Speed Rail Association as well. High Speed Rail parts and vehicles could be built in the slack water port and will be effective in putting Evansville’s slack water port on the map. The slack water port would be a great place to manufacture rail cars as well. Most importantly, building a high speed rail network is cheaper than expanding interstates and airport runways.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Reallocating part of the gas tax and using fares from riders.

Build A Ballpark, Marina, And A Ballpark Village On The Mulzer Stone Site

A quality ballpark is desperately needed in downtown Evansville. However, it must be done correctly in order for it to be a success. I believe the ballpark should be built on the Mulzer Stone Site. It should contain characteristics of PNC Park in Pittsburgh and AT&T Park in San Francisco. Over the right field wall, there should be a lighthouse which could contain a team shop or ticket booth. Past the Lighthouse should be an area where fans on kayaks can catch a homerun. A marina should be built next to the ballpark to encourage kayaking during games. Over the center field wall, there should be a windmill replica that represents Evansville’s commitment to sustainability. Over the left field wall, there should be a ballpark village similar to Wrigleyville in Chicago. Over the rooftops of the Wrigleyville replica, fans can see the Evansville skyline.

Here’s how I would pay for it: TIF funds from the entertainment district, casino revenue, food & beverage tax revenue, naming rights, Permanent Seat Licenses, bricks and statues around the ballpark.

Establish A Riverwalk On Pigeon Creek:

The Riverwalk on Pigeon Creek would draw tourists to the west side of downtown in order to increase the popularity of the entertainment district around it. It would have the potential to increase business in downtown, the north side, and the east side of town. It would also be able to connect to the Wabash and Erie Canal on the east side. Revenue from the riverwalk could be used for maintenance for the greenway.

Here’s how I would pay for it: I would set up a TIF district along the riverwalk where sales tax revenue of private businesses would pay for the riverwalk construction.

Move the LST To The Mead Johnson’s Terminal And Open A WWII Museum In The Building

Although it is a great benefit to Evansville, the LST has yet to realize its full potential of bringing tourists into downtown and tourists into a WWII museum. Currently, the Kinder Morgan Port of Evansville is an eyesore. There is plenty of room to park the LST in the Mead Johnson Terminal next to a WWII museum in the Kinder Morgan building that commemorates both the airplanes and ships that were built in Evansville.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Private funding

Establish A Slack Water Port In The Howell Rail Yards District

Evansville has a competitive advantage in water travel but has failed to take full advantage of it. The Howell rail yards offer great potential. It has plenty of land and plenty of existing shippers to compete with other cities water ports by having premiere access to rail. With a slack water port, Evansville can recruit more manufacturers and shippers to the district while using existing infrastructure.

Here’s how I would pay for it: Tax incentives for manufacturers and shippers who use barge transportation.

Re-dig The Old Wabash & Erie Canal

Digging the Wabash & Erie Canal would be a stimulus project that would benefit both downtown Evansville and the east side of Evansville. It would also be another way of connecting Evansville to Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, Toledo, and maybe even Indianapolis. Luckily, there is still a portion of the canal still intact on the east side and there is a good chunk of room left to dig the canal down Morgan Ave and back into downtown Evansville where an interpretive center would be set up at the convention center or old courthouse. There is already a group, whose website is, which is interested in bringing the canal back.
Here’s how I would pay for it: I would set up a TIF district along the Canal where sales tax revenue of private businesses would pay for the construction of the canal. I would also apply for state matching funds since the canal would travel across Indiana.