When I spoke out at the City-County Council meeting on February 1st, I briefly mentioned that I was concerned about how Indianapolis may look with the world's eye on it in 2012 due to the Superbowl.
Take a look at downtown Indianapolis. Not too far from the city-county building, there's an apparently abandoned building that looks like it was in the middle of construction or renovation. Right across the street from the Central library, there's a church that is just sitting there, locked and not in use. It's slowly turning from a parking lot with an ugly building by it to an eye sore. A similar church can be seen just off of Massachusetts Avenue, except this one is boarded up. And then of course, just a few blocks away from the Children's Museum, is the former site of Winona Hospital.
While the city's Indy Land Bank has taken possession of the site and cleaned it up and boarded the broken windows and unlocked doors, the fact remains that the city owned the site for over a year and allowed it to fall into an asbestos infected site, probably destroying the building's viability as a possible hospital for the neighborhood. While the city let it go to pot, squatters broke in and used it as their living space. It's only a matter of time before the city forgets about it again and this saga repeats itself.
One of my initial projects I wanted to start when this blog launched was a series on abandoned buildings. I was inspired, partially, by The Indianapolis Star's Star Watch column. This column publishes information about abandoned and neglected buildings, such as who owns it. However, the Star mislead readers on who owned the Winona Hospital site as I documented in this blog entry.
So this is one of my concerns. That when the world is watching us in 2012 hosting the Superbowl, some young journalist will walk a few blocks outside of the main activities and see the abandoned and neglected buildings that dot the areas around and just outside of downtown Indianapolis. I often hear about how to make this a "world class city", but before we get there, we have to take care of the basics first. Throughout the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting information on abandoned and neglected sites that I see in my daily travels. The challenge will be to get public records on who owns the properties, which may cause a delay in publishing these stories. It will also offer me additional insight as to how township government, which maintains property records, deals with public records requests.