Jennifer Milliken: Indy Rezone’s changes are the result of a positive collaboration

On November 1, the changes to Indy Rezone went into effect. These changes are important for a variety of reasons and demonstrate one of Indy’s strengths: the collaboration between public, nonprofit and private partners to get things done and get things done right. Here are the advantages:

Economy. The Indy Rezone Project made key changes to the city-county zoning ordinance that came into effect in 2016. While Indy Rezone has supported many of Indianapolis’ development goals, after five years of administering the regulations, city staff identified several limitations. Zoning has not responded to the mixed-use pedestrian developments demanded by consumers today, making it difficult to market these places. The latest revisions help build the most appropriate and in-demand developments along current and planned bus rapid transit corridors, protecting and capitalizing on Indianapolis investments.

Equity. A limited supply of pedestrianized neighborhoods can lead to the displacement of low-income people. To increase transportation options, our community has made smart decisions, ranging from approving bus rapid transit to supporting active transportation infrastructure like the Indianapolis Culture Trail.

Additionally, in 2019, the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership launched the city’s first $ 15 million transit-focused equitable development fund, established with the city’s Metropolitan Development Department and other partners. to preserve and create affordable housing less than a kilometer from transit corridors. . Recent zoning changes bolster these investments, which are important to serving residents who might not have or want a car. Updating regulations to promote pedestrian development can potentially increase the supply of housing while reducing displacement.

Durability. By encouraging development in demand and pedestrian corridors, Indy Rezone modifications reduce the need to drive. The approach is also economically viable, with dense developments costing less to develop and maintain and bringing in more tax revenue per square foot compared to areas with sprawling, car-focused land models.

The city of Indianapolis is to be commended for enlisting the help of outside partners to help make this vision a reality.

To accelerate the goals of Indy’s Sustainability and Resilience Plan (called Thrive Indianapolis), the city continued and received support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. The challenge helps 25 cities to set and exceed their climate goals by stepping up their actions in the two sectors that emit the most from cities: transport and buildings. Climate Challenge partners, including the National Resources Defense Council, Urban Land Institute and Delivery Associates, worked with the city to turn a goal into reality.

In addition, city staff engaged with community development companies and neighborhood associations to discuss the changes and what they meant for their communities. Indy Rezone’s efforts have also gone hand in hand with the priorities of local agencies like IndyGo and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is currently preparing an update on the overall economic development strategy.

By partnering with the Urban Land Institute, the city has benefited from its position to include experts from all sectors of the real estate and land use community. City staff sought advice from real estate developers and shared information about ULI Indiana’s educational programs. Indy Rezone’s changes align with ULI’s mission priorities related to housing affordability and decarbonization of the real estate sector, as well as its pursuit of more equitable communities.

Now comparable cities like Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin, Texas, many of which have already introduced transit, are considering Indianapolis as a model for implementing transit-focused policies.

With Indy Rezone’s changes taking effect this month, the city’s DMD is working closely with developers to help them understand the changes and apply them to their projects. But just as development is a never-ending process, ordinances are seen as living documents. We must maintain the dialogue between private developers, the public sector and residents as we work to make Indy fairer and more resilient. •


Milliken is executive director of ULI Indiana, the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

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