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July 31, 2014
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Cultural Districts

Indianapolis' nationally lauded Downtown renaissance continues

Indy DowntownDowntown Indianapolis has been transformed into a vibrant 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week urban center over the past two decades.  Our visitors say it best:

“…you can share the delight…in this crossroads city for the almost breathtaking, tangible success of a revitalization program the likes of which most other older cities are lucky to get to the blueprint stage.” —Los Angeles Times.

“…construction and development downtown seemed to wake the city up, and today, a thriving cultural scene mixes with Hoosier hospitality and charm.” —The New York Times

“All neighborhoods are important.  But when it comes to driving the economy of our surrounding region and this great state, no neighborhood is more crucial and more productive than Downtown Indianapolis, and I am committed to keeping it that way,” said Mayor Greg Ballard April 5, 2009 in The Indianapolis Star.

“Indianapolis is one of 10 cities poised for greatness in 2012.” —The Street

Lucas Oil ConstructionCities across the country look to Downtown Indianapolis as a revitalization model. Since 1990, Indianapolis has invested nearly $9 billion of public and private funds equaling more than 485 projects in Downtown projects from 1990 through 2011.  This is an average of more than $408 million of new investment, each year, for the past 22 years.

Even in a tough economy, Downtown development momentum continues with $3 billion of new construction and renovation efforts to be completed by 2017.  The return on these investments benefits the entire region with diverse employment options, a larger tax base, enhanced quality of life and increased visitation.

More people continue to come Downtown on a regular basis. Annual attendance at major Downtown leisure attractions has increased by 83 percent since 1994 to 8 million visits.   Surveys of Central Indiana residents show 79 percent of Marion County residents visited Downtown in a six-month period, up from 47 percent in 1994.  Residents also averaged nearly 13 leisure trips Downtown during that six-month period.

“The City of Indianapolis has evolved into a growth dynamo, setting standards of excellence for urban renewal and economic development.” —Nation’s Cities Weekly

Lilly IndyCorporations Commit to Downtown Locations

As the Downtown landscape continues to evolve, a growing number of corporations are choosing to locate or expand in Downtown Indianapolis. 

Simon HeadquartersAnother trend includes businesses locating regional headquarters Downtown:

  • Angie’s List: Whiskey Hill Initiative $8 million headquarters will be completed by the end of 2013.
  • DLZ moved its headquarters to 157 E. Maryland St. in 2011.
  • Apparatus headquarters at 1401 N. Meridian St. is opened at the end of 2010.
  • Nature Conservancy opened its new headquarters at 614 E. Ohio St. April 24, 2010.
  • Kenra Hair Care national headquarters moved to 22 E. Washington St. in 2009.
  • Kosene & Kosene Development & Management Co. moved its headquarters Downtown in April 2009.
  • WFYI Public Broadcasting’s $18.9 million expansion/renovation was completed in the second quarter of 2008.
  • Broadbent Company renovated and relocated to 117 E. Washington St. in the first quarter of 2008.
  • Chase TowerBuckingham Companies renovated and relocated to 941 N. Meridian St. in the first quarter of 2008.
  • In 2007, Hirons and Company, Buchanan Group and the 500 Festival all relocated headquarters to Downtown.  
  • Downtown buildings are keeping up with the times by expanding and refurbishing to help better serve their businesses. Buildings include Chase Tower exterior renovation, HVAF of Indiana renovation, M&I Plaza entrance renovation, Minton Capehart Federal Building renovation and other projects.  See project list for details.

Indianapolis was ranked the fourth most affordable city in the U.S. Criteria included current median asking price of homes on the market, median salaries of workers with bachelor's degrees or higher and compared it to a cost-of-living index and unemployment rates according to Forbes Magazine in January 2011.

IndianIndianapolis was ranked one of the top 10 great cities to start a business according to Kiplinger.com in December 2011.  Also, Forbes ranked Indy as a Best New Boom Towns in the U.S. in July 2011.

Life SciencesBioCrossroads - Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative Forges Ahead
In early 2002, government, business and education leaders launched the BioCrossroads Initiative aimed at developing the region as a world-class life sciences center.  Efforts build on the strength of unparalleled companies, universities and ground-breaking research.  Downtown anchors the effort with Eli Lilly and Company, IUPUI, Indiana University Health (formerly Clarian Health Partners), the Emerging Technology Center and cutting edge technology.

The Indiana Department of Commerce awarded the Downtown Indianapolis research community with the Certified Technology Park status.  This special status provides funding to the City to improve infrastructure and incentives for organizations that locate within the area.  Boundaries stretch from the Central Canal’s 10th Street basin to the Stadium Drive/16th Street area.  Additionally, the new 16 Tech is an Indiana certified technology park offering one million square feet of development and redevelopment opportunities, from commercial space, to wet labs, to clean rooms, to light manufacturing and assembly.  

16 tech planKey facts include:

  • The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital, (formerly Wishard) is currently building a brand new $754 million facility that will open in late 2013.
  • Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital Bed Tower $500 million project will be completed by 2017 along with an $108 million Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center opening in late 2012.
  • Riley Hospital Clinical Research Center will open in late 2012 followed by the $475 million Riley Hospital Simon Family Tower at Indiana University Health Phase V in 2013.
  • Indiana University Health is the second largest health organization in the United States.
  • IU Medical School is the second largest medical school in the United States
  • Eli Lilly and Company is one of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
  • Eleven Life Sciences projects worth $2 billion are to be completed by 2017.
  • Forty-eight Life Sciences projects were completed from 2000 through the end of 2010, totaling more than $2.2 billion.

IUPUI LobbyIndiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI), which offers world-class education in an urban atmosphere, is a BioCrossroads anchor.  IUPUI is located within the Indiana Avenue cultural district.  Indiana’s third largest university, IUPUI offers 200 degree programs from both Indiana and Purdue University to its 30,000 students.  IUPUI has quickly been transformed into a premier university with the completion of several grand projects including the ICTC Complex, Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, University Library, Science, Engineering & Technology Building, new parks, garages, student housing and other campus facilities.  Projects in the works now, or those recently completed, for IUPUI and IU School of Medicine include:

  • IUPUI’s $25 million Science and Engineering Lab will open in 2014.
  • IUPUI Sports Complex Parking Garage expansion, adding 1,300 spaces, will be completed by mid-2012.
  • Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute opened in the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • IU School of Medicine: Joseph E. Walther Hall was completed in April 2009.
  • IUPUI: Campus Center was completed in the first quarter of 2008.

Indiana University Health continues to expand its capabilities with several recently completed projects totaling more than $471 million including:

  • Education & Resource Center (ERC) Phase I, IU Simon Cancer Center and Riley Hospital for Children Phase V Bed Tower expansion.

Conrad HotelHotels, Retail, Restaurants and Entertainment Options Flourish Downtown
Since 1995, the inventory of hotel rooms has increased 51 percent to 5,600 hotel rooms Downtown.  New hotels since 2001 include JW Marriott, Staybridge Suites, Conrad Indianapolis, Candlewood Suites City Centre, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Indianapolis, Homewood Suites, Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, the Courtyard Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites and SpringHill Suites. New projects include:

  • The $39 million Alexander, a Dolce Hotel, is part of the City Way development planned to open at the end of 2012.
  • JW Marriott, a 1,005 room, $450 million project, opened in February 2011. 
  • Hotels continue to update their properties.  The Hyatt Regency Indianapolis invested $16 million in renovations in 2011. The Hampton Inn completed a renovation in mid-2011 as did the Omni Severin Hotel and Westin Hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn did interior renovations, while the Hilton Indianapolis completed exterior renovations in 2010.  Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel also renovated in 2008.

shoppingDowntown retail continues to be strong.  Circle Centre’s Carson Pirie Scott and nearby T.J. Maxx continue to flourish.   Small independent shops offer a unique shopping experience in Downtown’s Cultural Districts as well.  Recent additions include:

  • Circle Centre continues to attract new tenants including California Pizza Kitchen, Vera Bradley and Francesca’s Collections.
  • In 2011, Black Apple, Chatham Home, Crimson Tate, Jos A. Banks and White Dog opened; Honeysuckle Home opened in 2010; The Best Chocolate In Town opened on Mass Ave in 2007; Mass Ave Toys, Mass Ave Wine Shoppe, Global Gifts and others located Downtown in 2006.

Colts GrilleMore than 150 restaurants have opened since 2000 ranging from the unique and trendy local hot spots to the well-known chains.   Even with this tremendous growth, many of the national chain restaurants have been or are currently ranked in the top five in their system nationally.   New additions include:

  • Sensu, Potbelly’s, Black Market, California Pizza Kitchen, Indianapolis Colts Grille, The Libertine, 1933 Lounge, Papa Roux, New Orleans on the Avenue, Bru, Tini, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, Greek’s Pizzeria, Hoosier Park’s Winner Circle, El Rodeo and others opened in 2011.
  • In 2010, Bella Vita, Sahm’s at the Tower, T.G.I Friday’s, Buffalo Wings & Rings, Legal Beagle Pub and Eatery, The Flying Cupcake, Urban Elements 2, Circle City Sweets, The Left Bank, Yogulatte, Ball and Biscuit and other restaurants opened. (Wholesale District, The Canal and White River State Park and Mass Ave)
  • Panera Bread Company, Tastings – A Wine Experience, Cadillac Ranch, Kilroy's Bar and Grill and Ambrosia Centro opened at the end of 2009. (Wholesale District)
  • Scotty's BrewhouseAdobo Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings and Scotty’s Brewhouse all opened in 2008/early 2009. (Wholesale District)  Saffron Cafe also opened in early 2009.
  • Fogo de Chao and Dunkin Donuts opened in the second quarter 2008. (Wholesale District)
  • Harry & Izzy’s, same owners as St. Elmo’s, opened in Circle Centre in 2007, as did The Capital Center Grille in the Conrad Indianapolis, Weber Grill, BARcelona Tapas, Paradise Bakery & Cafe and others. (Wholesale District)
  • Buggs Temple, a $3.7 million redevelopment, was completed on the Canal in 2007. It features Euphoria and Creation Cafe. (The Canal & White River State Park district)
  • The Chatham Tap Restaurant & Pub opened in 2007 (Mass Ave district)
  • Long-time Downtown favorites include St. Elmo Steak House ($13 million in annual sales), Ruth’s Chris, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Palomino, Scholar’s Inn (SI) Restaurant and Lounge, Morton's, The Steakhouse, Buca di Beppo, P.F. Chang’s and countless more.

Downtown features the best museums, theaters, sports facilities and entertainment options around.  From the opening of Rhythm! Discovery Center in 2009, Lucas Oil Stadium in 2008, Conseco Fieldhouse (now Bankers Life Fieldhouse) in 1999 and Victory Field in 1996 to the new Indiana State Museum & IMAX in 2002, the attractions and exhibits continue to grow Downtown.

  • Indy Zoo CheetahsThe Indianapolis Zoo is building a $30 million International Orangutan Center by the end of 2012 and three Conservation Projects in 2014. A Cheetah Exhibit opened in 2010.  The $9.5 million Oceans Presented by Old National Bank at the Zoo opened in May 2007. (The Canal & White River State Park district)
  • The Indiana Landmarks Center is the new home to Indiana Landmarks. The $10 million renovation was completed in April 2011 offering venue space for private functions in the restored former sanctuary and auditorium -- now the Grand Hall and Cook Theater.
  • The Indiana Experience at the Glick Indiana History Center, $24 million project, opened in March 2010. (The Canal & White River State Park district)
  • The $25 million 100 acres: Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art opened in June 2010.
  • Convention CenterA $275 million expansion to the Indiana Convention Center will add as many as 28 major conventions and trade shows, create 2,700 additional jobs and produce $165 million in new sales, set to open in late 2010.
  • The Children's Museum of Indianapolis added a new welcome center, extension of a skywalk into the museum, bus driveway, bike port, additional landscaping and relocated a library branch within the museum, and opened June 2009.  The $6 million Power of Children Exhibit at The Children’s Museum opened in November 2007.
  • The new $719 million Lucas Oil Stadium with a retractable roof opened in August 2008.  The stadium hosts the Indianapolis Colts, NCAA championship events, 2012 Super Bowl and others.
  • Indiana Repertory Theatre renovated its existing street level restaurant space and created a new public lobby in 2008.
  • A new U.S.S. Indianapolis Museum at the Indiana War Memorial opened in July 2007.

According to Beth D’Addono, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “it soon became clear that there was much more to this capital city of 1.6 million than auto racing and college and pro sports… A concerted effort to reclaim green space, expand the convention center, and centralize cultural institutions has produced a solid array of attractions…”

The Chicago Tribune call Indy "close to perfect!"

Mass AveCultural Districts Program Highlights Unique Destinations
In 2003, the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission created the Cultural Districts Program to facilitate the cultural development of six distinct neighborhoods or districts that offer a unique mix of arts, cultural and hospitality activities.  These include Broad Ripple Village, The Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Mass Ave and Wholesale District.  In 2004, Indiana Avenue was added as the sixth district. Over the years, key priorities were addressed and implemented including wayfinding and real estate efforts and usage of district identities, Web sites, in-district applications and Cultural Districts Guides. In 2011, all websites were updated and refreshed, funded by the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission.  Visit www.DiscoverCulturalDistricts.com for more information.  Many of the projects underway are in the Cultural Districts.

Cultural TrailThe Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick,is the 8-mile path that will be the Downtown hub for the city’s greenway trail system and an icon for the urban development and cultural attractions that have come to define our city.  Work is complete on the Capitol Avenue, Southeast, West, East, North and Northeast corridors.  The entire Trail is set to be complete in 2012.  Visit www.IndyCulturalTrail.org.

Residential Opportunities Continue to Grow
Even through a tough economy, Downtown has seen strong demand and occupancy levels, driving the surge in residential development.  This has led to more than 3,200 new residential units currently in the pipeline totaling more than $480 million.  These houses, condominiums and apartments are scheduled to begin or be completed by 2017.  For the most up-to-date list of new residential projects, visit www.indydt.com/Projects.cfm.

Living DowntownLiving Downtown means easy access to the area’s 210+ shops, nearly 300 restaurants and bars; numerous museums, historic sites, memorials and parks; major sports venues; countless performing arts, theatres, entertainment and recreation options and a plethora of art galleries and unique attractions. It means skipping the daily commute and suburban traffic jams and having time after work for family, friends and fun. Leave your car behind and let your feet take you where you want to go. Downtown is attractive to people of all ages and offers a broad range of homes in every price range. Whether the view is overlooking Downtown’s Central Canal, high above ground level spanning the city or nestled in a historic neighborhood, each home lies in the heart of Indianapolis. 

According to Forbes Magazine, 95 percent of Indianapolis residents can afford a median-priced home – more than anywhere else in the country.

Circle CentreTurning point yields successes
In September 1995, a major milestone in Downtown Indianapolis occurred when the $319.5 million Circle Centre shopping and entertainment complex opened.  Circle Centre’s immediate success triggered development of new corporate headquarters, hotels, residential developments, entertainment destinations, restaurants and shops.  Since its opening in 1995, Circle Centre has consistently averaged nearly one million visits a month.    

The Indianapolis Artsgarden, attached to Circle Centre, is an attraction in itself.  Owned and operated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, this unique $12 million glass-domed structure rises seven stories above street level and holds up to 600 people. 

Downtown continues to grow and gets even more exciting each year.  Whether you’re a resident or visitor, Indianapolis is a destination to keep on your radar and patronize frequently.  Visit www.indydt.com regularly for updates.

Indy Downtown AppLive in Indy

Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. exists to improve Downtown. It is action-oriented and addresses critical issues that affect Downtown's growth and well-being. IDI focuses on three areas: development, management and marketing.

Updated 1st Quarter 2012

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