“Super” Construction is Only a Temporary Inconvenience

17 08 2011

To my dear Indianapolitans:

Construction sucks. There’s no doubt about it. But as you can see, there is construction everywhere you look in Indianapolis and for the most part, it’s actually getting done pretty quickly… except in Fountain Square for whatever reason.

No one I know has an explanation as to why it’s taking so long to get the Cultural Trail finished in Fountain Square, but whatever the reason is, it’s not good enough.

With that said, there has been a lot of chatter in Indy lately about the construction there and elsewhere, and unfortunately, a good amount of what I have seen isn’t exactly true. While this post is absolutely my opinion, and mine only,  I do have a job that has allowed me to get a front row seat view at all of these issues in the Circle City & this one, for whatever reason, has struck a chord. Here are just a couple of opinions I’ve seen floating around, and I’d like to offer mine in return.

1. “This Super Bowl Construction Sucks!”

Yes, ALL construction sucks- it’s just plain inconvenient. However, the construction that is being done now is not being done FOR the Super Bowl. Yes, they are ramping up efforts and trying to do as much as possible because we are about to host more than 150,000 world-wide visitors to Indianapolis, but it’s not FOR the Super Bowl. The construction that is taking place now has been in the works for years, long before we  even heard we were getting the Super Bowl. The Cultural Trail, road improvements, infrastructure additions, it’s all a part of a more than decade-long plan that also included $3 billion in new, tourism-related infrastructure ( think Lucas Oil, Airport, Convention Center Expansion, World’s Largest JW).

This construction and new infrastructure certainly helped us land the Super Bowl, but it’s being done to continue improving our city, to attract more people to Indianapolis that will support our more than $3.4 billion-a-year tourism industry and to allow people to more easily move around to areas of the city that they should be seeing….ahem… Fountain Square.

2. “All of this construction is a waste of time and money!”

While I won’t get into the politics behind fiscal decisions, it’s hard for me to believe that this construction is a waste of time and money. Politics aside, these construction efforts, all of them, will greatly improve our city and if we want to continue to be looked at by news outlets, other cities, and people as an amazing place to live and work, a place that encourages walking and healthy living, the silicon valley of the midwest, a boom town and one of the top 25 visited cities in the nation, these improvements HAVE to be made.

Here are my thoughts on the money aspect:

As an entrepreneurial, business-minded young man, when a business spends money on something, there better be some sort of return to validate that spending. In our case, these construction efforts have already started paying dividends.

Just by spending millions on expanding a convention center, we have already made that money back by signing more, bigger conventions with economic impacts that far outweigh the cost of construction. Because of the, hopefully, soon-to-be constructed cultural trail, more people will visit and spend money in areas like Fountain Square. Because of the JW Marriott, we were able to secure an event that will bring more than $400 million to Indianapolis. All of these projects, however, affect a visitors opinion of the city and the locals quality of life, and both of these will greatly improve because of the renovations being made.

Yes, I’m sure there are some instances where money could be allocated differently and certain contracts could have been negotiated better, but the fact that this much change and improvement is happening in Indiana is astonishing. Yes, it should have been done sooner, and yes, we still need things like mass transit, but in a place where progress is usually stalled by politics and the like, this much needed facelift is great news.

3. “Super Bowl Construction puts downtown businesses out of business.”

I won’t go too far in to this one, but I couldn’t disagree more with this statement. Yes, construction can and will affect the amount of traffic a store gets, but if a less than one mile stretch of one side of a road is to blame for a business’ demise, I’d be willing to bet that the business wasn’t going to be around for long anyway, as much as it pains me to say that.

Keep in mind that most successful businesses are successful because they offer a great product that people are willing to buy, whether there is construction or not. If all of the roundabouts in Carmel were shutdown, you can bet your bottom dollar that I WILL find away to get a slice of pizza from Pizzology, even though it’s insanely out of the way and inconvenient for me.

This construction WILL not only drive more business to these areas, but it will also make it easier for 18 million people a year to move around the city and spend more money in more places. And in the case of the Super Bowl specifically, a $400 million economic impact will do exactly that: create an opportunity for local businesses to thrive and make a killing.

4. “What’s the deal with Fountain Square?!”

To this statement, I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t think construction is bad for Fountain Square, I think the amount of time it’s taking and the weeds growing on top of construction rubble is. Plain and simple: it needs to get done, now. This construction is actually going to help business in the area, but my favorite cultural district in Indianapolis is an eye sore for the time being, and that’s not right.

So, to close, my point is just to think. Think about the future and the long-term effects of this temporary inconvenience. It’s taken a LONG time to get to a point where our city would commit to doing this much work, so embrace it- it’s been a long time coming.

It’s okay to be upset at inconvenience, and you SHOULD be pissed that the Fountain Square cultural trail work is taking this ridiculously long- I certainly am.

But make sure you’re pissed at the right things. Make sure you see the big picture, because I’m pumped…