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Reimagining The Gateway To Bloomfield

Suprima Joshi, Xianfu Sun
One vision of the entrance to Greenfield was designed by Suprima Joshi and Xianfu Sun, students in Carnegie Mellon's Masters of Urban Design. They envision "Bloomfield's Green Walk," which features a pedestrian-friendly, plaza-centric design.

In Bloomfield, at the confluence of four roads, one bridge, and 11 lanes of traffic, there stands a grocery store. Some see an invaluable resource in the Bloomfield ShurSave IGA, others an underused space, and some, an opportunity—the future is in the eye of the beholder. As well as that of any future developer.

The 20,000 square-foot store stands on a 1.7 acre lot at the entrance to the neighborhood. Milhaus, an Indianapolis-based developer, intended to build 200 apartments above first-floor retail. At a community meeting last January, residents called for plans to include affordable housing, improved traffic safety and the continued existence of a grocery store.

However, Milhaus allowed the deal to drop last month.

With the property back on the market, Bloomfield residents and the Bloomfield Development Corporation want to provide future developers with a consensus of what neighbors would like to see there, said BDC’s business district manager Sam Spearing. 

“It does serve as a gateway to the community...right now, you see a big parking lot and the grocery store there,” he said. “We’d love to see any development that happens there become something that people see and they instantly think ‘I’m in Bloomfield.’ Something that welcomes people to the community.

Students in Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Urban Design program spent the semester imagining a new future for the grocery site, as well as the blocks around it. The proposals included ideas such as breaking up the large site by reconnecting alleyways, adding green space, housing, improving the pedestrian experience, and even shifting the northern end of the Bloomfield Bridge to make a safer connection.

“Well, it wasn’t the best-functioning, coherently working bridge,” laughed Suprima Joshi, of the engineering suggestion she and her colleague, Xianfu Sun, made. “We understand we sacrifice some circulation of the traffic [with our proposal],” he added. “Liberty Ave is now more connected, and the whole area is now more pedestrian friendly.”

After a brief presentation from each group, the class’s co-teacher, Bruce Chan, encouraged residents to explore the designs and ask questions.

“Dream a little, look at the site with new eyes and engage with students,” he said. “See if any of these are feasible for a future site of Bloomfield ShurSave.”

Bloomfield does not currently have a city-approved master plan, which would provide development guidelines. Instead, Bloomfield Development Corporation plans to hold three community meetings in early 2019 to help shape a site vision, and will work with ACTION Housing and the Studio for Spatial Practice to do so. Chan works for the latter, but agreed to teach the CMU class before his employer was selected through an RFP process.

Spearing said the owner of the ShurSave site, Mark Davis, has agreed to go along with the community process.