New Albany purchases former Tommy Lancaster's property, by Jerod Clapp (Cooking School at Church)
NEW ALBANY — After sitting vacant, blighted and vandalized for years, New Albany’s Redevelopment Commission approved the purchase of all six parcels of the former Tommy Lancaster restaurant at 1629 E. Market St.
This week, the commission approved the purchase of the parcels — which included the building and the area around it — for $78,840.
From the mouths of the clueless comes drollery, and accordingly, Bob Caesar echoes time-honored conventional wisdom: We needn't interfere with fundamental reality, just hurry and make it LOOK better, so as not to weigh on the orderly sensibilities of suburbanites.
“It’s another small effort to clean up some blighted areas. That whole corner of Market and Vincennes has looked bad for a long number years,” Caesar said. “John Neace [a real estate investor] cleaned up the other side of that road and made it presentable, and other investors have put money into Vincennes Street and have been successful.
“I think if we could acquire all of that, it would be a real asset for the city.”
Meanwhile, Vinod Gupta, who lives in Florida, made out like a bandit, tripling his money for six years of do-nothingness. Gupta owns 45 properties in Floyd County, and no doubt hopes the likes of Caesar convinces the city to overpay him for those, too -- I mean, we simply must make the squalor LOOK better, mustn't we?
The eGIS map excerpts below show Gupta's parcels near (and including) the former Lancaster's.
The corner property at King and Vincennes is vacant but has an owner (who also owns the former Graf Dodge building), and Market Boy still controls its building and the corner parking lot on Market & Vincennes.
Imagine the subliminal messages Market Boy sends Caesar. He probably can't sleep after those rare occasions of venturing into Uptown.
A few weeks ago on a miserable, overcast day, I took a few photos of the area. Note that the dilapidated blue house is not a Gupta property, and has been cited by David Brewer's office. It appears to be empty, but you might recognize it from the mayor's press release belatedly touting rental property registration and enforcement.
It's worth remembering that two huge factors invariably go unmentioned in periodic discussions about the Vincennes corridor.
First, echoing the Speck study, Vincennes Street is ridiculously configured given the traffic it carries. More importantly, the future disposition of one-way Spring and Market streets is critical for any revitalization plan slated for Gupta Land. To keep these streets as they are is to reduce the value of any investments made there.
With the stalwarts of Team Gahan as yet funneling streets engineering cash to the company Duggins' wife works for (was it a competitive bid, Warren?), positing changes to the vacant lots is putting carts before horses. In short: Just like always.
Second, there's the reality mentioned more than once in these pages, namely that the Vincennes corridor's degradation began on the day after the railroad closed the K & I auto lanes, circa 1979. In the modern paradigm, the best conceivable revitalization strategy for this area is a K & I reopened to walkers and bicyclists; the needed private investment would soon follow, without the low comedy of Team Gahan serving as property consultants and developers.
Unfortunately, the K & I gambit is a long shot.
My guess? Main Street-style beautification for Vincennes, which ignores complete street basics; half-ass (or no-ass) "calming" on market and Spring, also serving no useful ultimate purpose; garish painted ladies in a row; and a cheap strip mall with a nail salon and payday loan operation.
Caesar will be delighted: See how nice it looks now?