Cummins to locate $30M division headquarters in downtown Indianapolis

File photo of Cummins headquarters in Columbus, Indiana.
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Columbus-based Cummins, Inc. plans to build a new division headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.

The engine-maker, a Fortune 500 company, reached a deal with the city to build on the south half of the old Market Square Arena site, now a parking lot. It will also use the parking lot directly south of it (for which it will pay the Circle Area Community Development Corp. $4.3 million.)

Plans call for a building that will initially house 250 executives and office workers who now work in Columbus and at two locations in downtown Indianapolis. The space will be large enough to accommodate another 150 people as the company expands.

Deron Kintner, who heads the Indianapolis Bond Bank, said, "This isn't just 'we want to locate some jobs in your city.' It's 'we want to build a campus.'"

Besides the office building, Cummins plans first-floor retail, a parking garage and public green space.

Cummins spokesman Jon Mills said the company considered several other cities but liked the "easy access to the interstate and the airport. It's easy for customers and employees and obviously the the space is attractive as well."

Mills said Cummins likes the fact that the site is adjacent to the Cultural Trail and is in the heart of downtown.

The city helped seal the deal by offering several incentives. It's giving Cummins the one parking lot valued at $5 million, $3.3 million for improvement to things like sewers, sidewalks and curbs and a 10-year property tax abatement of 70 percent.

Kintner said of the incentives, "because of the competitive process (of landing Cummins) we felt they were very vital, otherwise we wouldn't have offered them."

The city has been trying to develop the old MSA site ever since the arena was imploded in 2001. Several previous proposals fell through just as the economy crashed.

Last summer, Flaherty and Collins won the bid to develop the north half of the site. It will break ground early this summer on a 28-story residential tower and 40,000-square-foot grocery store.

Damon Franklin, who's had a shoe shining business at nearby City Market for seven years, said, "They finally did it, they finally did it. There's a lot going up around downtown."

Franklin especially likes hearing about so many executives and office employees just a few steps away.

"It means hope, more shoes, more people in the market, more work and repairs. It makes it a great day," he said.

Sam Taylor agrees. He owns Jumbo's, at City Market since 1973.

"I'm happy they're doing development in this quadrant, this side of downtown," Taylor said.

Of course, it will mean a lot of nearby construction. Phase two of the Artistry apartments is now underway with construction of the new transit center at Washington and Alabama set to start this fall (and again the residential tower starting in a few months as well.)

"We love seeing all the construction. The workers coming in is helpful," Taylor said though he does worry about the impact it will all have on parking.

"It is going to hurt traffic flow," he said. "But for the most part I'm thrilled because it's temporary and the buildings are permanent."

The public financing still needs approval from several city agencies, including the City-County Council.

If the project gets the green light, Mills said construction could start by year's end. He said the goal is to have the building finished by late 2016.