As most Evansville residents know by now, Global Blade Technology, GBT, has announced that they will begin setting up shop at the old Whirlpool plant where they will be producing state-of-the-art windmills.
The good thing about this latest piece of news is that just about everyone wins. I, myself, am excited about the opportunity from a historical preservation standpoint (saving the WWII big blue building), an environmental standpoint (windmills will replace coal and oil), an econonic standpoint (this will be great news for any future slack water port built), and from the standpoint as an advocate for rail technology...
Even better news came when GBT announced that they will be building a second plant by 2013. Hopefully, GBT will be successful in their qwest to add a total of 400 + jobs to the area. Not only will GBT be bringing in a significant amount of jobs, they will also be sustainable and good paying.
Not only will these sustainable jobs have the opportunity to resurrect Evansville's economy, they will also have the opportunity to resurrect Evansville's image if we are successful in changing the thought process around city hall. I say this because last year we were dealt a setback in our efforts to convert Evansville to a green city when Mr. Frank Peterlin saw his petition to construct 3 windmills outside his business denied...
Obviously, we missed a golden opportunity when our city decided to play politics. Mr. Peterlin's petition was denied for two reasons...
1. City hall hasn't updated some of their zoning laws since the Stone Age. Because of these outdated laws, Mr. Peterlin's windmills were placed in the same category as several thousand feet cell phone towers. Therefore, it was nearly impossible to get a variance from the highly regulated category Frank's windmills were placed in.
2. The businessman next door did not like the idea of windmills at all (it was pretty obvious that jealousy was the main reason) and decided to fight it to the end. Unfortunately, he won as he took advantage of just about every law that he could apply to the windmills. The Board of Zoning Appeals proved to be no match for this businessman and gave in rather quickly.
If we are ever going to move up the rankings and become one of America's greatest cities, we absolutely have to eliminate needless road blocks like the above 2. Mr. Peterlin offered Evansville a chance to begin entering the 21st century and become a green city moving forward. Yet our government threw him out in the cold. For that Mr. Peterlin, I would like to say I'm very sorry and am embarrassed as an Evansville resident that this happened to you.
Although Evansville lost when Mr. Peterlin's petition was denied, we now have an opportunity to change all of this when GBT comes to town. Like Toyota, GBT will be a force in our town as one of our premier employers. They will bring a lot of benefits to the Evansville community and we owe it to both them and our community at large to promote their windmill initiatives.
What can we do that will separate us from other cities in the windmill industry? If you recall, I wrote on this blog last year about a need to construct a "Windmill Monument"...
I even wrote into the Courier & Press with the idea...
Why do I believe that a windmill monument would be a game changer for Evansville? After all, wouldn't it be just as easy and probably cheaper to build an ordinary building? Isn't this a want versus a need for our windmill industry?
Sadly, many people here in Evansville feel that way. They say buildings lack an IQ, a soul, or a special purpose. They claim that a building will never be able to make a city any better, rather, it is the talent inside that makes the city. They don't believe any building or facility should be any different than the one next door. In their eyes, a perfect city would be one that is built with basic features and only necessary attributes. No flare, uniqueness, or perks would exist on any building. We would be living in a modern day "Whoville."
But what these naysayers don't understand is that a cities building inventory tells the whole world just how competitive their city is. The vast majority of tourists, business investors, residents, and anyone else walking on the Earth are competitive. They want to go to a city that is better than any other city. This is where a windmill monument drastically improves Evansville's marketability, and I will show you why.
Let's say that you are a tourist. You like traveling to cities where there are plenty of things to do, but most importantly you are interested in buildings that offer great views over a city. You are given 2 choices but can only pick one. You're two choices are "Building A" and "Building B." Let's take a look at each facilities basic description.
Height: 630 feet
Overlooks: 58th largest city
Height: Top floor: 688 feet Antenna Top: 830 feet
Over looks: 12th largest city (just moved up to 11th this year)
Holding other things constant, which building do you think a tourist would choose? From what we are given, you would have to think that Building B would be choosen as it offers a view that is farther up in the air, over a much bigger city, and is newer. Those who don't believe in building architecturally inspiring buildings would tell you that Building B would get the job done. They are wrong.
Take a look at what the two structures are...
St. Louis Arch
Chase Tower- Indianapolis
The St. Louis Arch hosts over 4 million tourists each year who take the trip to the Arch's observation deck, while Chase Tower in Indianapolis offers no observation deck, only a law office...
Chase Tower is so ineffective at drawing visitors and tourists that most skip the building completely and visit the shorter Soliders & Sailors Monument. Indianapolis missed a golden opportunity with their tall highrise that is the 138th largest building in the U.S.
If we are going to maximize our efforts to convert Evansville to a green city, we have to follow the correct marketing steps with our buildings. There are tons of green companies we can recruit to come to our town not just windmills. SIREN is one of them...
A windmill monument would recruit tourists, investors, and visitors from all over the country. Many cities understand the benefits of building a monument...
So where would a windmill monument go? In my opinion, there is one prime lot for it.
If you look through the 2001 master plan, you will notice that Mulzer Stone, Tekoppel Block, and IMI Concrete were suppose to be relocated with their land redeveloped. If we can ever get our political leaders motivated, we can move these companies to a slack water port in the Howell Rail Yards. The 2001 master plan then called for these parcels of land to be redeveloped for urban living and recreational purposes.
If we redevelop the area correctly, we will have the LST at the Port of Evansville (which is west of the the Joan Marchand Bridge), and we will have a ballpark and possibly a canal on the Mulzer Stone lots east of Pigeon Creek. This leaves one open lot that is north of Ohio Street, south of the Lloyd Expressway, east of the railroad tracks, and west of Pigeon Creek...
There are many advantages to this site...
1. A windmill monument would spur development all the way to Franklin Street which was the goal of the 2001 master plan.
2. The site is close enough to the Ohio River to get a strong gust of wind.
3. The site can be complimented by a river walk running parallel to Pigeon Creek.
4. The site has an excellent view of both the Ohio River and downtown Evansville.
5. The site has an excellent connection to railroad transportation for any products that would be produced next to the windmill monument.
Make no mistake, I am not proposing building a windmill monument that is large enough to compete with structures like the Space Needle in Seattle or the CN Tower in Toronto. If you look at the photo of the Space Needle in Gatlingburg, you will see that it is much more practical yet effective at the same time. That is what we need here in Evansville.
What should we surround the windmill monument with?
1. There should be an observation deck on the top with a small gift shop.
2. There should be a "wind plaza" at the bottom of the monument where Evansville's green companies such as GBT can market to visitors.
3. Restaurants and retail should connect the monument to pigeon creek by running parallel to the creek.
4. The land south of Franklin/ north of the Lloyd Expressway should be cleared and rebuilt with condos, recreational activities and room for green and tech manufacturing plants such as GBT.
With the arrival of GBT, we have two choices. We can make the best of it by marketing our green image to the nation, or we can just let GBT be an ordinary quiet business on the outskirts of town. Let's take advantage of this golden opportunity. Let's build a windmill tower!