If you don’t live in Indianapolis and/or haven’t been around Butler University’s campus of late–there’s a decent reason why you haven’t been around campus: it’s under construction. Big time.
Part of the construction is a new dorm, which honestly, we need (former resident of Schwitzer Hall, here…I speak from first hand experience). The other massive structure going in is a parking garage – also something else we desperately need.
But that’s not the interesting bit. What’s interesting about the parking garage is that there will be some retail on the bottom of the garage. Considering there isn’t a lot of business right around walking distance from campus, this is exciting.
We received a survey a while ago about what all we’d like to see in this retail space. Of course, I answered the survey. But, if I ruled the universe (which I currently don’t. At least yet, anyway…) here’s what I’d like to see go into that retail space:
1. A new concept pharmacy lab – Note I didn’t say “pharmacy.” You already know how I feel about a lot of chain pharmacies right now – in that if someone blindfolded you, planted you in the middle of one, you probably couldn’t tell which one you were in, since they all look the same. Ugh. Instead, I’d really love to see us try something new with a pharmacy concept. In that–maybe we actually have a vending machine pharmacy for 30 fast moving drugs, and that a pharmacist could actually talk to the patient while the machine fills the prescription. Maybe that also means a juice bar with healthy options, and a third space hangout for students and health classes for the community. Maybe that means banning the sale of sugary processed food, alcohol and tobacco and instead sell healthy snacks that don’t send our blood sugar levels into outer space. And yes, maybe that even means a cooking classroom space to have classes on eating vegetarian, paleo, or other diets that cut out the $*(^*&^! we eat. Last, this would have a bookstore with books on health, cooking smart and well, etc. Apps, wearable tech support would also happen. Center for Urban Ecology on campus could even sell their veggies here in the summer.
As I said, not your typical pharmacy.
2. A restaurant that’s one of a kind – I mean one of a kind for Indy. I’d like to see healthy choices here too – why not a faster food choice that’s healthy, like iQFood Co. or Oakland’s (non profit) Core Kitchen – that sells only veggie based meals? A local chef could really try something new and healthy in this space – and have a low cost lunch option and a higher brow evening option – but HEALTHY. And, a place where students can learn more about cooking and eating healthy too.
3. Co-learning and retail environment – In high school, the students ran a store of their own to learn about entrepreneurship. Now, while there are tons of co-working spaces, what I don’t see much of in Indy are concepts like NC-based Gather. It’s a coffee bar/hangout for entrepreneurs. They have classes on handmade stuff. And, they have front end retail space for ‘treps to sell their wares. What if we could teach our students at Butler how to make things (a la the maker movement), have a third space for them to hang out with other entrepreneurs, and learn how to sell their stuff? Classes on the maker movement, anyone? It’s like Etsy on campus!
4. University Alumni Dawg House – A place where you can go when you’re naughty. Ha. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously–I would love a place for taking my guest speakers for a beer or glass of wine after a lecture and catch up. I really can’t do that now unless I want to get into the car. And, if everyone has their knickers in a twist about etoh on campus, do what other schools do – sell half alcohol to no alcohol content beer. Limit to 2. I really am not wanting a hang out for alums and all of us over 21 to get hammered – but I do want a place for alums, speakers and all of us to feel welcome, grab a drink and catch up. I really think Butler has been LONG overdue for a University Club for alumni. We could even partner with a local brewer (eh hem, black acre/sun king, etc.) and have our very own BU-Dawg-Brew! (And hey–I really don’t even like beer, but I’m behind supporting the locals.)
I’ll stop here. If I could manage that space, these 4 concepts I’d put into the space in a heartbeat. The one thing they all share in common? Hangouts. Environments to trade ideas, share and learn. And, after all, isn’t that really what a university or college is supposed to be about?