View Full Version : Indianapolis - Elevating Expections for Downtown Indy

10-21-2014, 12:00 PM
SCHMIDT: Elevate expectations for downtown


It’s easy to pat ourselves on the back about the vibrant downtown areas of Mass Ave, Fountain Square, Monument Circle, White River State Park. We’ve come a long way, and people love to spend time in these places.

But we shouldn’t be content. Visit Chicago—or a similar-sized city—and notice the difference. While our Mass Ave and Fountain Square restaurants are busy from 6 to 8 p.m., similar restaurants in Chicago would still be crowded until 10 p.m. Our sidewalks and retail stores might be bustling on a Saturday afternoon, but many are empty other parts of the day and days of the week.

Despite new upscale residential developments popping up downtown as fast as people can build them, we need more urban density to support a healthy base of restaurants and retail.

We need to elevate the expectations. At the same time, we must ask ourselves whose expectations we care about. Just the 30-somethings with executive jobs? Or a broader group? Here are 10 ideas for elevating the expectations for downtown:

1. Invest in amenities that keep young urban dwellers downtown after they have kids. Pocket parks and a few major playgrounds are small investments to keep young families downtown and encourage the interaction that makes downtown living so attractive.

2. Have the guts (and the money) to build more than five stories. If we’re going to get to sustainable urban density, we’ll need more mid-rise places to live.

3. Mix in more affordable housing. Starter living units with lower price points will lure sought-after young professionals earlier.

4. Face up to the fact that urban dwellers may not have cars, which means we’ll need more forms of public transportation. Yes, huge public transportation projects between suburbs, downtown and the airport are good ideas. And the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare is great. But urban dwellers need additional simple solutions, such as downtown trolleys or shuttles for major shopping trips and events.

5. Find creative ways to lure people from one downtown neighborhood to another. For example, bars in the trendy Soulard district of St. Louis run shuttles to baseball games and other sporting events. It disperses the crowd (and the parking) around downtown.

6. Make bus stops more attractive. It’s another relatively inexpensive way to encourage people to use existing public transportation.

7. Hoosiers, get over yourself about walking. We don’t have to drive to the front door of every restaurant or store. Enjoy the fresh air and build your fitness by walking. It’s what urban dwellers do!

8. Don’t ignore the 60-plus crowd. They want to walk to work and enjoy urban living, too.

9. Encourage opportunities for people-to-people interaction. That could be game nights, the above-mentioned pocket parks and playgrounds, board games in the parks, or informal talks on music, art, books and politics. It makes urban living fun.

10. See downtown as a whole. Each neighborhood is unique, but we must stop competing among them and connect the pieces. When we see downtown as a whole, more medical students from the west side will dine on Mass Ave, sports fans and convention goers will visit Fountain Square, and Mass Ave residents will attend a Colts game or a White River State Park concert.

All you have to do is elevate the expectations.•

10-21-2014, 12:21 PM
Interesting article and very relevant article. Though Indianapolis is easily a tier above OKC, one could seamlessly swap out Mass Ave/Fountain Square/Monument Circle/White River State Park with Bricktown/Midtown/Plaza/Myriad Gardens, Chicago with Dallas, Hoosiers with Sooners, Indiana Pacers Bikeshare with Spokies, and Colts with Thunder and apply this article to OKC. Many of these things are already being done or in the process of it to some extent in OKC.

12-09-2014, 09:31 PM
Hey Naptown - do people in Indy ever think of Columbus as a twin city? Since I've been around here I've started to view the two as basically foils of each other - both fast-growing, white collar, govt-oriented cities, often accused of being too vanilla to stand next to nearby rust belt cities like Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis. Roughly same size, layout, beltway-centric development patterns, etc. The main difference is while Indy has invested everything into having a strong downtown (to the detriment of neighborhoods), Columbus has done the opposite with neighborhoods (to the detriment of downtown).

Kind of a rambling comparison, but it's interesting to have very similar cities that just took different redevelopment approaches. I understand that the Chicago-Columbus HSR is to go through Ft. Wayne simply because Indy isn't as supportive? I guess it shaves an hour off too (Chi-Col in 3 hours!).

02-16-2015, 06:12 PM
Market Square Tower breaking ground February 18th.

By Scott Olson
February 16th. 2015

Flaherty & Collins Properties finally will break ground on its 28-story, $121 million downtown apartment project anchored by a Whole Foods store on Wednesday.

The local developer told IBJ that the ceremonial groundbreaking with Mayor Greg Ballard for Market Square Tower will start at 9 a.m.

Actual construction work should begin within two weeks, said Jim Crossin, Flaherty & Collins’ vice president of development. The project is expected to take about two years.

Groundbreaking set for Market Square project | 2015-02-13 | Indianapolis Business Journal | (

02-16-2015, 07:54 PM
Indianapolis is a growing city in America. People's Church is launching a new campus there later this year, too.

02-18-2015, 07:25 PM
Indy is just so vanilla.. no offense. A true best practices city.

07-09-2015, 10:31 AM
So I am moving to Muncie (close-ish to Indy) leaving OKC after 5 years. Wish there was a community so dedicated to city so it could be the best it can be like OKCTalk. Naturally, I will want to make comparisons to OKC after moving. I am not sure exactly what to expect. I bet development expansion won't compare to OKC. We'll see...