More gall

Dateline: Tue 25 Jan 2011

That Palladium in Carmel is over the top.  Whether its true cost is $126 mil or $400 mil -- all figures floating around out there -- it's an absurd amount of debt and lavishness.

Perhaps the biggest cost is the growing divide between the "us" and the "them." The Palladium, one opera-going friend points out, will draw crowds and dollars away from Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus, a perfectly respectable venue.

More resentment piles up at the perception that Carmel is "better than thou." At the Broad Ripple McDonald's on Sunday, an older lady sat reading her Indianapolis Star (with front-page pix of the Palladium's "community day," which appeared to be sparsely attended).

This lady was not especially well-dressed; she was a polyester person, in lilac, but she was kind and thoughtful.

Thus she launched into the story of how she was pulled over by Carmel cops for driving a vehicle with a bad bumper, an old beater of a car. When they learned that the plates were old, or something was amiss, she spent the night in jail. Naturally, she is no fan of Carmel.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard certainly has achieved his dreams.  He wanted a city with streets paved with gold; he practically got it. He's done some wonderful stuff -- roundabouts, bridges, etc.

But this Palladium: is it too much, or what? And what will be the effect on the Indy arts' scene?

Even if there are enough patrons to keep both Indy and Carmel in music and song, I still shudder at the cost.

Why so lavish?


Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I've tried to do two different commercial real estate deals with the city, under Mayor Brainard. He's an arrogant Napoleanic thug. And truth be told, he's kinda creepy in person.

OK, admittedly, this is a broad-brush, but the actions (or the blase ignoring of facts) of Carmelites make the brush wider by the day:

Their schools are fantastic, albeit void of diversity, and proper discipline it seems. Their entitlement mentality knows no bounds. Their common sense seems bedazzled by the glittering spotlight of Palladium.

This is not new--Carmel has been heading in this direction for 20 years or so. In fact, there is a new generation of teens completely enveloped in this bubble, evidenced by the unfortunate basketball hazing case. And it's not "just Carmel," but for some reason, this attitude doesn't seem to migrate from the far northside.

We didn't need Palladium in central Indiana. It will not succeed unless something else--Clowes, namely--falters. So evidently this is how we thank longtime community benefactors like the Clowes family--erect a competing facility. Clowes is one of the world's better concert halls, in excellent condition almost 40 years after it was erected, which is a magnificent fete.

Carmel gave us the short-term flash of Conseco vis-a-vis Hilbert Circle Theatre. It was emblematic of the mentality. The company barely survived, and the CEO moved on from a palace to more modest digs.

The trouble is, like school superintendents and too many ministers--the bricks/mortar they leave behind, have debt stretched out for decades.

It's way over the top. Given the cast of characters--not surprising. I won't patronize it. Their survival doesn't depend on me.

Gma TTT used to say: bring out the good jewelry only at Christmas and Easter. In other words: enough with the gregarious displays of wealth. It's disgusting.

2011-01-25 09:17:15

hendy [Member] said:

The Carmel tax base can support the Palladium. Whether it will find a sound financial model remains. I say: rejoice. We need more music venues. Butler has a great hall in Clowes. I've been going there from its inception.

Now there's another one. Let's rejoice. It's plainly beautiful. I hope people get to perform there, hear great music and productions there, and enjoy it. It's already built. Ready to go, and not that far to drive. The people in the region should get full benefit from it; it's state of the art in terms of sound and construction.

As for Brainard.... I don't like his politics and his weird funding piques. I do like that he's been able to build Carmel and mock the living hell out of the dolts around him. Carmel has a real downtown, arts, nice places to live, and you no longer need to be white and Protestant to live in them. The Carmel business corridor was just good planning and zoning.

I used to have a great distain for Carmel. Now, I believe that despite the strange politik, their planning and view that Indianapolis isn't the center of the (expletives deleted) universe is fine for them. Living in Bloomington as I do, has helped me understand the narcissistic malaise of Indianapolis.

For every Conseco, I can give you the name of three Indianapolis companies of equal size that went bye-bye. Where would you like me to start? Carmel recovered, Indy recovers.

2011-01-25 09:35:33

Nicolas Martin [unverified] said:

Some numbers would be instructive.

In real dollars, what is per capita taxation in Carmel today compared to 15, 25, or 50 years ago? What percent of personal income does that taxation consume?

Same questions as to government debt.

Police horror stories abound in almost any city large enough to support a police force. It takes a strong stomach to read the National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap, found here:

2011-01-25 11:14:07

JL Kato [unverified] said:

I don't begrudge Carmel for building the Palladium. Let's face it. Indy is failing to nurture the arts, and Carmel, which has an appetite for such things, is reacting proactively. The challenge for Clowes is to develop a local base. And the challenge for Indy as a whole, is to cultivate the arts citywide. (Yes, I'm talking about the Southside, which failed the Edyvean Theatre when it moved to the U of I.)

2011-01-25 11:55:48

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Hendy: My disdain for Carmel is based on living near the 96th St. line for 30 years, and having kids on the south side of it, who interacted with their friends to the north as if there were no barrier.

It's not either-or for me. If Carmel can prosper, so be it. Indy prospers on multiple levels, and it's still one of America's most-affordable big cities. There are problems, to be sure. But all can be solved.

But this hall was over-the-top big-time. No question about it.

I don't know where you get your racial diversity mantra re: Carmel. Latest Census figures have changed little: it's 90%-plus lilly-white. Diverse, not.

I've done a lot of volunteer work with arts groups. I hope you're right about the new venue. I seriously doubt it. And the tax base may be able to support it: Brainard's been on an annexation tear. Still, you gotta ask: why stack the govt. budget base, if you don't have to?

This new venue has a large expensive staff, too.

Sorry, Hendy. It has all the makings of an overbuilt Methodist church that is on life-support 12 years down the road. I hope I'm wrong.

2011-01-25 12:41:26

hendy [Member] said:

TTT, I see it as a long term investment. It's to be celebrated. It's not a monument to excess, it's a really nice venue. Circle Theater, and numerous others downtown in Indy were once great places, like MSA, The Hoosier Dome, and more.

In a fit of desperation-- so that the teams wouldn't move because of THEIR lack of loyalty, we dropped MSA, The Lyric, The Art, The Hoosier Dome, and so on. Clowes is the only really new arts venue in Indy in five decades. Think about it.

I don't mind taking my Black Irish self up to Carmel-by-the-Cornfields to see some entertainment. I may not be able to afford the price, but Carmel's not the lilly-white bastion of Northside Redneck that it once was.

Yes, there are inequities, and there always will be some. I think there's a lot of fishy funding that goes on up there, but there's NO NEWSPAPER LEFT to do an investigation. And well, expect no real openness and fairness in government. We are a Stars-and-Bars state, after all.

But they spent it, and didn't tax other jurisdictions, like Marion County did, to fund it all. Bully for that, no?

Rich white folk gotta live somewhere, right? How are we gonna fund the BMW dealerships? Brightwood?

2011-01-25 12:55:53

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It's still too expensive, Hendy.

Ever been in Brainard's office? Hands-down, nicest office I've seen in this city. You could play football in it. He's compensating.


2011-01-25 13:39:30

DMC [unverified] said:

Wow. Bitter much?

I've lived in Carmel for just over four years. We moved here primarily for the schools for my seven year old. In that time, I've discovered the excellent city services and really appreciate the low property tax rates.

The Palladium is a short walk from my home. My family and I look forward to being able to walk there during the warmer months. Is it worth the price? I don't know but think that only time will tell.

Diverse? I can't say for all of Carmel, but at my son's school and in afterschool activities, there are multiple races and ethnicities represented.

And, being a far left liberal, I do have to say that if you have to have a Republican in charge, Brainard isn't bad. I love the roundabouts, especially the way the reworking of Keystone Avenue has transformed that commute.

Your perception of Carmel is skewed by small slices of a large community. Please come to visit and leave your attitude south of 96th Street. (And the streets will be well plowed, should you decide to visit on a snowy day -- even side streets!)

2011-01-25 18:50:24

news junkie [Member] said:

What sets Carmel apart is that the mayor has a vision. For good or ill, slowly but surely, the city has built an impressive art district, nice sections of locally owned shops and restaurants, good schools and a strong sense of community identify. You can like or dislike the Palladium, but its existence is due to someone with a vision and the political will to carry it out. Imagine what could happen in Indianapolis if we had a mayor with a vision and political will, let alone a leader for whom the arts are at least as important and desirable as sports.

2011-01-25 19:26:44

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Imagine what could happen in Indianapolis if we had a mayor with a vision and political will, let alone a leader for whom the arts are at least as important and desirable as sports.


2011-01-25 19:34:53

Nicolas Martin [unverified] said:

It speaks volumes about Americans that so many now think that culture is something spawned and subsidized by government. That's more like the end of culture.

The original American cultural contributions, like Blues, Jazz, and Funk, are more the products of brothels and speakeasies than government grants. It is no accident that PBS, a creature and dependent of government, regularly features the music of Lawrence Welk.

2011-01-25 20:15:59

John M [unverified] said:

I have decidedly mixed emotions about Carmel.

First, on the diversity issue, no one will confuse it with the UN (or Washington Township, for that matter). Still, "lily white" isn't a fair description. Carmel High School is 83 percent white, 9 percent Asian, 2 percent Hispanic, 3 percent black, and 3 percent multiracial. I'm sure the census numbers, taking into account older residents, skew whiter than that, but for an affluent suburb in a country that is 75 percent white, it's not that bad.

Suburban living isn't for me. I'm quite happy in Irvington. But a major city is going to have suburbs, and I commend Carmel for trying to establish itself as a true "place" rather than as a sprawlburg like Fishers, Avon, Greenwood, etc.

Still, the smugness that you condemn certainly exists, TTT, and I get really annoyed with comments like "if only Indianapolis had a mayor with such vision!" It's an apples to oranges comparison. Indy has the legacy costs, the poverty, the old infrastructure, and so on. I wanted to throw my computer threw a wall when I read Matt Tully's nonsense today, suggesting that the Palladium somehow caught Indy asleep at the switch. If Carmel wanted to build an opera house nearly half as expensive as Lucas Oil Stadium, what in the world was Indy supposed to do about it?

2011-01-26 07:39:35

B2 [unverified] said:

Well said, John M

2011-01-26 09:49:17

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

In VERY general terms, with obvious exceptions: Carmel reminds me of the teenager in a divorce, who gets to live with dad in a fancy new house with new girlfriend and baby. Mom has to move into smaller, less-expensive digs.

It's a warped view of the world. And what the world expects from you.

Carmel has fewer of those long-term legacy costs. They get the newer stuff.

They can have it.

2011-01-26 11:46:24

Write Man [Member] said:

Hendy's right...lots of fishy funding, or perhaps more pointedly, lots of folks lining their pockets while they can.

There are more than a few folks who give it two years before things blow up, the big-gun out-of-towners head back to brighter lights and locals will be left to pick up the pieces.

I toured the Palladium while it was under construction and saw big posters with obviously affluent people in tuxes and ball gowns, and wondered where they'd be coming from, and how the venue could make a living marketing to them. I recognize it was part of the branding, but it set a tone and expectation that may be difficult to meet. The opening season's lineup is a big-time snoozer.

I'm not envious of Carmel, glad that folks like living there. But it's very tough for "new urbanism" cities, including Carmel, to build sense of place. That's something that's closer to alchemy than economic engineering. Indy doesn't do the best job of protecting (or respecting) it, but at least we have that. My favorite parts of Carmel are the few that haven't been swallowed up by "progress," even though I know the "progress" is successful.

2011-01-26 20:33:09

melyssa [unverified] said:

Those property taxes won't always be so low in Carmel....the monster will come to roost.

As far as the palladium cost, one of the city councilors said Brainerd keeps track of it on scrap paper on his desk.

2011-02-01 12:23:46

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