ULI Indiana News

I-65/I-70 North Split Project: Rethink Design and Call to Action

The I-65/I-70 inner loop in downtown Indianapolis is nearing the end of its life span. It must be rebuilt from the ground up. This project offers an enormous opportunity to take the Crossroads of America to the next level. But we only have one chance to get this right, and INDOT’s plan for the first phase of construction (the North Split) would severely limit future phases.

The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Consistent with that mission and ULI Indiana’s vision to position Indiana as a great place to live and invest, ULI Indiana supports a coalition of residents, neighborhoods, businesses, civic organizations, cultural destinations, urban planners, transportation planners, architects and landscape architects called Rethink 65/70. The Rethink coalition has promoted a new design that meets four principles: no above grade walls, no expansion of lanes; increased connectivity between neighborhoods and downtown, and increased land area for economic development.

The Rethink Coalition hired Arup, an internationally renowned transportation engineering firm specializing in large infrastructure projects, to review INDOT’s latest preliminary preferred alternative (called “4c”) and the coalition’s suggested design and their four principles. Arup quantified the economic development opportunities that could be realized in the Rethink design compared to INDOT’s preliminary plan.

Arup confirmed that if INDOT followed Rethink’s suggestion to recess the interstate, it would reconnect streets between neighborhoods and downtown and free up land that could accommodate 10 million square feet of residential, office and park development, supporting over 3,000 new residential units and over 22,000 jobs, not to mention provide a big boost to the Center Township tax base.

Rethink Design Compared to INDOT Design 

Potential Economic Impacts

  • Increase in adjacent property values by $36-$64 million, based on current gross assessed value.
  • Creation of 46 new parcels of developable land with an approximate current market value of more than $90 million.
  • The new developable land can support approximately 3,330 new residential units and 6.6 million square feet of new commercial floor space (≈ 6,000+ residents and 23,000 jobs).
  • Real estate investment of $2.1-$2.5 billion and more than 14,000 construction-related jobs.

 Potential Social Benefits

  • 37 acres of open space for parks and recreational purposes.
  • Enhanced connectivity between downtown and neighborhoods.
  • Greater integration with planned mass transit system.
  • Increased mobility through expansion of bicycle facilities and walkable, pedestrian-scale urbanism.

Potential Fiscal Impacts

  • Additional annual property taxes from land appreciation from existing properties of $0.8-$1.5 million.
  • Annual property taxes from new parcels of $55-$65 million (at full build-out)

Call to Action 

Message the governor, letting him know that the design of the North Split interchange should not preclude the implementation of a recessed highway concept later connecting to the North Split. This is an important land use decision that has the potential to reshape the economy and quality of life in Indianapolis for the next 50 years.

For further reading on rethinking urban freeways, review these ULI resources:

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