Community Perspective: Corrie Meyer on Urban Revitalization

Corrie Meyer

Corrie Meyer, AICP, PLA, is an entrepreneur working in the urban environment as a certified Urban Planner and licensed Landscape Architect. As President and CEO of Innovative Planning, a central Indiana strategic planning firm, she provides visionary and adaptive leadership by delivering creative site layouts, pro-formas, and development solutions for mixed-use projects and communities. Her strength is overseeing development strategies that drive transformative change. Corrie is driven to inspire and support others to make a positive change in their environment by thinking through significant goals that influence the course of time.


You have done a lot of work in redevelopment. What do you see as the keys to revitalizing urban areas?

First is strong leadership. We need strong leadership in our cities and towns to develop a strong vision and to put together a team who can get things done. This could be mayors, or this could be engaged community or business leaders.

Vision is also important. The vision needs to guide the community. The right parties need to be a part of the process; you don’t want it to occur in a bubble. In some communities, the core group is elected officials and staff who are framing the vision. In other communities, the vision develops more organically through a grassroots effort. Having the right people involved ensures there is a strong group who serve as the founders of the idea and hold people accountable for executing it.


What role do anchor institutions have in the urban revitalization process?

Anchor institutions have a lot of influence. Their participation often leads to a stronger vision or stronger ideas. Any time you have the opportunity to collaborate, that makes for a project with long-term viability.

Anchor institutions might be able to bring along a potential tenant for a new building, or they may want to do an expansion in the area themselves. They may also bring financial resources or volunteers to get something done.


Downtown on Mass Ave in particular, what do you see as the important anchor institutions and influences on the revitalization of this area over the past few decades?

The Athenaeum is definitely an anchor institution here, as well as Riley Area Development Corporation and Mass Ave Merchants Association.

These three organizations and the people who work for them have dedicated their careers to creating a thriving Mass Ave area. They live and breathe it. The Athenaeum has brought people to Mass Ave—not for decades, but for centuries. It is the sole institution that kept Mass Ave alive and kept it from becoming another vacant, old commercial block up against the interstate. People will always know, remember, and enjoy the Athenaeum.

I’d also say there are some key individuals, people like Wayne Schmidt in fact, who invested early and often in their office’s neighborhood. Wayne has been persistent in making sure this cultural district is strong, which comes back to that strong leadership that is necessary to revitalize an area.


What are the biggest challenges that often come with redevelopment?

A challenge of redevelopment is financial feasibility. These urban renewal areas want to be dense. Today’s demand on mobility and independent travel, each of us having our own car, that is a major demand on the feasibility of redevelopment. Finding the available parking is difficult and costly. Making sure there are transportation options is key to making redevelopment more feasible.

It’s also important to facilitate equal opportunity for businesses and residents to thrive. We need to focus on mixed use, mixed income, mixed opportunity—all of those things help create diverse redevelopment. Sometimes developers are solely focused on bringing their product to a neighborhood, and it fits their mission and they can usually mold it into the community vision. The equitable distribution of opportunities isn’t just for the developer or the people holding the vision. It’s for the entire city.

Something else you don’t want to ignore is the preservation of culture. Urban renewal areas are areas that have been identified as needing a “refresh.” But it’s important you still preserve the culture of the area. Culture is long lasting; it stands the test of time. Buildings come and go and get new faces and new users. The culture of a space that everyone in the area feeds off is what makes a space unique.


What excites you most about where Central Indiana urban development is headed?

We have a strong creative class. We are attracting a new generation to Indianapolis, which is going to continue the momentum of strong investment in Central Indiana.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is continuing to shop and bring new jobs back to Central Indiana. That is exciting because that will bring more people, more opportunity, and more investment in our communities. Visit Indy also does an amazing job of promoting Indianapolis and bringing conventions here. If we can provide more opportunities to millennials and Gen Z, we will continue to be a strong economic hub of the Midwest.

While we don’t have iconic landscapes, the White River Master Plan will encourage interaction with the river and strengthen it as an asset. The airport is amazing and continues to make it easy for people to come in and out of Indianapolis. It all feeds together to create a strong metropolitan area, regardless of natural features.


Is there a specific project you’re looking forward to?

The next “it” spot will be Eleven Park, the soccer stadium development. It will serve as a catalyst for transformational development. It is unique over other projects because it will be the sole development that brings entertainment, workplace environment, residential, hotel, retail and restaurants all together. Being like a miniature city, and I think it is the stand-out project for this decade.

The Sweet Side of Beekeeping

Now that we are all ‘resident experts’ with beekeeping, we sat down with Mark Manship to learn a little bit about the honey. Albeit, what most of would consider the best part of beekeeping!

But maybe you haven’t heard the buzz about our bees yet – check out this blog first to catch up.


How long does it take before a hive starts producing honey?

A hive starts to produce honey within a couple of weeks. But it is minimal storage, and they need some honey to feed on. Especially during the winter. It can be a full year before there is honey to harvest.

How much honey does a single hive produce?

Each bee only produces a 1/12th of a teaspoon in its lifetime and travels up to 3 miles to obtain the nectar and pollen it needs. But there are thousands of bees in a hive, and they reproduce quickly. Depending on the hive, you end up with 20 to 60 pounds of honey. Honey is sold by weight, not volume, because of water content.

What are the benefits of honey bee hives?

For the beekeeper, it’s the honey. For hobbyists, it’s not a profitable situation. You also have wax, which we provide to a friend who makes soap, lip balm, and other beauty products. You can also make candles and other wax products. The pollen can also be harvested to be used for boosting immune systems against allergies. Pollen, by weight, is a similar value to gold! With the honey that isn’t high enough quality to sell, we use it to make mead.

The pollination helps flowers, fruit trees, and many other plants reproduce. For commercial beekeeping, the pollination is required for successful agriculture. This is the biggest need since we are an agricultural dependent society. Mass farming production needs bee hives at fruit and vegetable farms for the pollination, or the fruit and vegetables won’t be successful. For example, almonds, oranges, pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, etc. This is 60-70% of the food we consume.

In this area, the only natural pollinators are carpenter and bumble bees. And a very limited variety of honey bees. All others were imported from Europe or East Asia.

Want to know more about our bees? Follow us on social to keep up with the hive!

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What’s that buzz? It’s Schmidt Associates’ New Bee Hive on our Green Roof!

In case you haven’t heard the buzz, Schmidt Associates is now an urban beekeeper with a honeybee hive on our roof.

Luckily, Mark Manship, one of our construction administrators, maintains two beehives at home and has become the keeper of our hives.  Since many of us are curious about what this means, we decided to sit down and ask him about being a beekeeper.  Check back for future blogs with more information and check out our social media sites. We’ll regularly have pictures posted with captions about the bees’ progress.

How did you get into this?
About five years ago my wife and I moved to a property with 3.5 acres of land. My wife wanted to get chickens, and I said “no” (I had them as a child and didn’t want them again.)  She mentioned bees, and I said sure. We got a nucleus hive (or nuke), a starter hive with 5 full frames of bees. Unfortunately, they didn’t last the winter, and we started over with a couple of new varieties of honey bees. We had some success, and they were thriving. Someone my wife knew wanted to retire and needed to find someone to take his bees. We reached out to some friends who were also interested in beekeeping, and together we purchased all his hives and equipment. After splitting this among our friends, we were at our peak capacity of 12 hives of various breeds of honeybees from all over the world on our property.

Though it began as my wife’s hobby, I helped a lot. With a background in carpentry, I made the hive stands and helped with transportation. Not long after we started, I had a swarm of honeybees land on a tree by my old office, and we wanted to capture the swarm to move them. We contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) about regulations to capture swarms. We were encouraged to contact a beekeeper or capture them ourselves. That’s when I got hooked. Saving the bees.

We are now listed on the IDNR swarm list for East Central Indiana. When someone finds a swarm of bees, they typically call pest control. Pest control refers them to the IDNR swarm list to have someone come catch them.

Mark Manship moving a bee swarm

I bought three new packages of bees this spring, one for our homestead, one for an offsite location, and one for the green roof at Schmidt Associates.

Schmidt Associates’ Green Roof with a New Bee Hive!What goes into maintaining a hive?
Once the hive is established, about once a week you open the hive to look for brood cells to make sure they are multiplying. You also look for honey stores and check the general health of the bees. You check for signs of pest intrusion and adjust accordingly. Another part is looking for additional queen cells, or an abundance of bees which may indicate they are ready to split or swarm and create another hive.

You need to make sure they are healthy, but if they get overly healthy, the hive needs expansion or needs to be split. I’m still learning and taking over the hive keeping at home. We’ve been doing this for about four years, but it was mainly my wife. Now the apprentice is the beekeeper. And I get to do it at the office too, which is great!

Check back in a few weeks for more information about honey production and the benefits of bees!

The Heart of the Placemaking Process

Every place evokes feelings for people. A great place feels welcoming, exciting, curious, comforting—and maybe even inspiring. Your designated place always has the opportunity to evoke vastly different feelings than it does now. In downtown places, reinvestment from all parties is evident and necessary—and generates a lot of interest and excitement. A Placemaking Plan does just that—it defines an area within the community as a place of significance and puts a plan in place to reflect that vision. The process includes cultivating new ideas and generating partnerships that share in the investment and creativity of the place.

1. Gain Input

  • Community Workshop: The targeted audience for the workshop is neighboring residents, business, and property owners. Serves as the community’s foundation for discovering and sharing:
    • Placemaking best practices nation-wide
    • Real-time information
    • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
    • Initial programming thoughts and priorities
    • Conceptual design ideas
  • Small-Group Stakeholder Meetings: The purpose of these types of meetings is gathering stakeholders in a casual environment to share their interest and influence for the project. We brainstorm their ideas to continue building momentum and support for a civic place. Typical targeted attendees would be specific property/business owners, university and city representatives, chamber of commerce officials, and convention and visitors bureau representatives.
  • Community Empowerment: The transformation of places is intentional so the community will feel a sense of ownership about its recreation as a vibrant public space. This step is crucial. Begin educating and generating ideas at the community workshop and stakeholder workshop. To create community empowerment, Schmidt Associates has found that allowing physical and deliberate interaction with the space is essential.

2. Visualize Ideas
Just like places evoke emotions, so do illustrations. Understand the importance of vivid sketches and renderings. The right image can help raise support, funding, and excitement for any project.

3. Plan For Action
Planning to make action has to be intentional. In all of Schmidt Associates’ planning work, we detail a roadmap for leadership to take action.



A Tiny Trend in Urban Living

Almost every home improvement channel has a show dedicated purely to the design and construction of the trendy tiny house. People are downsizing and compacting their lives to fit into these homes comprised of only a few hundred square feet. Smaller living rooms. Smaller kitchens. Smaller fixtures. Smaller everything.

It is not just a HGTV craze to build a tiny home and live out in the middle of nowhere – the big city folks are also going micro. The bustling cities of New York, London, and Tokyo are putting up micro-scale housing options to be able to accommodate for space and the budget of urban-dwelling millennials. Apartments are as small as 200 sf to 450 sf depending on the layouts. Below is an example of a 1-bedroom, 225 sf apartment in NYC:

tiny-apt-1 tiny-apt-2







When you don’t have a lot of space on which to build, but you do have a lot of people interested in living in that area – building 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom micro-scaled apartments makes sense.

Architects and interior designers are used to clients asking for spaces that are flexible and transformative which is exactly what is needed to make these small spaces work. Light filled spaces and higher volume areas give a feeling of openness and make small spaces more inviting. Light colors on the walls make spaces look larger as well.

Furniture becomes a more integral design element in tiny spaces and can be spatially tailored to each specific design. Many elements are also often required to pull double duty – a kitchen sink with a cover allowing it to also be additional counter, or two desks that fold together to become a dining room table. Storage areas become a creative puzzle on how to maximize every square inch available. Flexibility needs to be considered in terms of the walls and room dividers as well, allowing residents the ability to separate and open the space as needed.

The best target market for these small-scale spaces tend to be millennials for one main reason: they want to do it all – and on a budget. Less square footage leads to a smaller rent payment, allowing for dollars to be spent elsewhere – travel, entertainment or paying off those pesky college loans. Even though they want something more affordable in the city, millennials still crave Instagram-worthy style and function. That means no skimping on architecture and design elements while shrinking square footage.

The big question: Is Indianapolis wanting or needing tiny housing?

Apartment counts are on the rise in Indy with several thousand units coming online over the next few years. Even with all the new units, demand is still very high and units with a price tag still allow a recent grad to eat on a regular basis are hard to come by. Apartments in good locations with a small footprint and associated price tag are likely going to be very popular in the coming years.

One project that we have designed that is about ready to break ground, Penrose on Mass, has units that fall in line with the tiny trend. The studio units boast a small footprint with high livability ranging from around 450 to 685 sf. Four of the units on the top floor top out at over 1,600 sf and have a lofted sleeping space and will floor to 18’ ceiling glass wall with great views of Mass Ave and Downtown Indy. We can’t wait until these units come online!

453 sf

453 sf unit

685 sf

685 sf unit







But what do you think – is tiny living in Indy a good solution or just another passing trend?



About Turning 40

WilFra Before

Turning forty for a business is different than it is for a person. For one thing, there are no teasing implications that “it’s downhill from here”. More the contrary—if a company weathers all the challenges it will encounter over that length of time, it is probably proving itself multi-generational. That takes us into the province of legacy.

Heritage is what we receive from past generations; legacy is what we leave future ones. At this very moment I sit upon a chair I could not make, wear clothes I could not fashion, write with pen upon paper I could not produce—and that is the small stuff. We are surrounded, sustained, and enabled by the developments and accumulated work product of countless generations. With appreciation for all that has come before, what do we see as we turn to the present and future?

What we see at Schmidt Associates is that our turn to pay it forward is now 40 years along with plenty of road ahead. Although this milestone finds us in chorus with Kool and the Gang: “Celebrate good times, come on!” we are also engaged in a bigger, broader picture of all that we have been and yet will be. We see your journey is on the same map as our journey, so go on expedition with us! Uh, you can lose the pith helmet.


“You don’t get older. You get better.”

—Shirley Bassey

Mixed-Use Development Challenges

Mixed-use development combines two or more uses; residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial into an integrated structure or area. This can be a single building, a conglomeration of several buildings, or sometimes an entire neighborhood or development area. Blending together restaurants, boutiques, and apartments can bring a lot of life to a city corner while allowing for greater density. It brings people together to live, work, and play in the same space.


Penrose on Mass

Since these types of developments are usually located in the heart of a city, the residents will live close to where they work and play, reducing the need to drive. This means less cars on the streets and more pedestrian or bicycle-friendly environments. These are just a few of the benefits of using mixed-use spaces and why we continue to see more developments of this type popping up. But mixing multiple uses together has a fair share of challenges as well.

Some of challenges when planning a mixed-use developments are:

  • Security issues – Any time you have multiple users in a building you are going to have places that you would like one group to have access but not others. For example, you don’t want shoppers to have access to the resident hallways above. Finding a way to separate functions and access needs to be addressed early in the design process to make sure all needs are being met.
  • Noise transfer – Keeping noise isolated from one space to another is important. Though most residents do understand that they are living in a busy city environment means that it will be noisier than a suburban home, mitigating sound transfer from a noisy restaurant to living space above is paramount.
  • Trash and smells – Retail areas and restaurants can produce a lot of garbage and obnoxious smells depending on the business. If there is a nice dumpster out back, out of site and out of mind work well. Plus, all of the open air allows smells to dissipate. But in a tight urban site, these areas might be located under or next to someone’s living space. Think hot summer months with the scent of spoiled dairy floating into your apartment…
  • Fitting into the context of the existing area – As mixed-use development trends toward larger scale buildings, it is important to be cognizant of the surrounding architecture and scale. You wouldn’t want to build a modern 12 story building in the middle of a historic neighborhood of small homes.
  • Parking – Oh, the ever present parking debate! Though the hope with mixed-use development is to help reduce the dependence on the automobile, not everyone has embraced that mentality. Plus, you will most often have additional visitors who will need a place to park. Thought must be given to the various uses and when each space will be active to plan for the correct number of parking spaces for the overall development.

This is a sampling of some of the issues that can apply to many mixed-use projects. However, each project is unique and no matter the type, all projects have their own share of unique opportunities often disguised as challenges. As long as these things are taken into account early in the design process, adjustments can be made before they become problems.

Have any further questions on mixed-use developments or have an upcoming project? Reach out to us!


Urban Environments Archibabble

 Checkout our short quiz – Urban Environments Archibabble 

Just click on the link below, and you’ll be directed to the quiz where you can compete, learn and have a good laugh too.

Take our quiz here!

Feel free to share this with others at your college/university who might enjoy.

Pavement Inventory & Maintenance Studies

What is it?

A few school corporations and townships have recently been asking Schmidt Associates to put together a plan book regarding the conditions of their pavements. In short, these pavement inventory and maintenance studies are analyses of the existing pavement conditions, asphalt or concrete, at a particular site.

Here’s how it works…

The pavement is evaluated and rated with a scale that helps determine which sites or areas are most in need of help. Pictures, notes, and maps used to mark the specific problem areas are used alongside a rating chart to best outline the problems and areas needing the most attention and improvement. After the assessment is completed, Schmidt Associates will determine the estimated repair costs for each area needing repair. Finally, we prioritize what areas need to be repaired first so that over a period of time your ratings will get better and your cost for repairs will slowly decrease as problems are strategically tackled. In sum, this process will prioritize the most important repairs for someone’s site and help set a strategic budget plan to complete repairs over time.

The finished plan book includes:

  • Executive summary of the site conditions
  • Pavement and concrete assessment forms (rating charts)
  • Estimated repair costs per site
  • Site plans and maps with marks showing what needs fixed where
  • Photographic documentation
  • 5 year plan outlining the year to year timeline for improvements


What we look for, and the benefits of repairs

The major reason why owners should assess and repair their pavements is for safety and cosmetic purposes. If you want to keep your site from looking run-down or becoming unsafe, sealing and repairing your sidewalks and parking lots can go a long way. In short, it may not be glamorous work, but it needs to be done.

When doing our assessments, here is where we look, and what we look for…

Where We Look:

  • Asphalt running tracks
  • Asphalt tennis courts
  • Hard surface play areas
  • Parking lots
  • Entrance and exit drives
  • Concrete walkways/sidewalks
  • Concrete aprons and steps
  • Concrete curbs
  • Parking bumpers
  • ADA ramps and accessibility issues


What We Look For:

  • Overall condition of pavement
  • Cracking (Area covered and size of cracks)
  • Deterioration (Does it need a mill and overlay or full depth replacement?)
  • Parking lot striping/paint
  • Poor drainage conditions


pavement pavement 2


Elevate Your Expectations for Downtown Development, Part IV

In my Indianapolis Business Journal column listing 10 things Indianapolis could do to make our already thriving downtown an even better place to live, the fourth item was:

Face up to the fact that urban dwellers may not have cars, which means we’ll need more forms of public transportation.

Yes, the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare is great. And huge public transportation projects between the suburbs, downtown and the airport are on the drawing boards. Urban dwellers need additional simple solutions.

Before choosing a place to live downtown, a professional has already figured out how long it will take to walk, bike, or bus to work. They (and retirees who opt for walkable downtown living) have already scoped out restaurants, bars, a gym, and a grocery.

One day they will need to make a major shopping trip, see their doctor, take their dog to the vet, attend an event that’s too far to walk, or visit grandma for Thanksgiving dinner. Or maybe they walk to work, but their spouse can’t. What then?

Good news

  • Options have improved in recent years. We already have taxis, Uber and rental cars that deliver. Lyft ride share can get you to Castleton for $27 or the airport for $26. Rent-by-the hour Zipcars can be found here for about $7 an hour plus a membership fee, but we need more of them to make them a true convenience. (If the costs seem high, remember how much YOU’RE paying for car payments, insurance, fuel, repairs, and parking.) BlueIndy electric car rentals will be here later this summer.
  • Megabus can take you from city to city, and are within walking distance for most downtown residents.
  • IndyGo’s new Downtown Transit Center, scheduled to open late this year, should make transportation around the city easier and more pleasant.


Here’s more we could add to elevate expectations:

  • A simple system of shuttles to take people from one part of downtown to another. It’s a relatively low-cost solution that Indianapolis has implemented off and on. Let’s make it reliable and easy for everyone.
  • Trolleys. We’ve tried them before, but we may have the population density now to support them. Besides, it’s just fun to ride a trolley.
  • Do something bold and make it permissible for people to hail a cab. A no-cost solution.
  • Create more covered and pleasant bus shelters. We have some; we need more.
  • More Segways. Segways are available downtown – but for organized tours that originate in White River State Park. That works for tourists, but what if Segways were available for spur-of-the moment rentals in convenient places for downtown residents? We could make pick-up and drop-off sites adjacent to the Pacers Bikeshare locations and repurpose old phone booths as Segway vending machines!
  • Make transit planning an essential element of big events. Remember the radio ads for bus service to the Indy 500? Public transportation is a welcome solution when it’s well planned and communicated effectively. (Of course the Indy 500 service usually required you to drive somewhere to catch the bus, so we have to get past that.) What if we had “Blue” shuttles to take Colts fans from restaurants and bars to the game, easing the congestion around the stadium as St. Louis does in its entertainment district? And what if that ride was fun?
  • If we had unlimited money… What about more trains? More elevated monorails? An airport tram? A combination of busses and underground trains like Seattle? An “L” system like Chicago?
  • Driverless cars. OK, I know that sounds futuristic. But they’re coming sooner than we think — and it’s going to change everything. When they arrive, you’ll know I’m a genius for being among the first to tell you!


To read my IBJ column, click here.