Fountain Square celebrates reopening
After years of road construction and headaches for business owners, a renovated Fountain Square is about to reopen. The newly installed Pioneer Fountain and new stage and plaza area will be officially dedicated September 22.
There's still construction underway in Fountain Square, but you'll have to go inside to find it. Adam Graef plans to open a home furnishing store in a space on Virginia Avenue.
Graef said he chose Fountain Square because "it's a fun vibrant area. I do see this as a destination. I think it has a lot of unique retail and restaurants."
It's also become a lot easier to navigate now that the barricades are gone.
As Kristi Lacy, who works a the Red Lion Grog House noted, "A couple of businesses did not make it through construction. We're happy to be here and see things picking up."
Work on the Cultural Trail, sidewalks, fountains and new stage area over the last couple of years kept many people away from the south side cultural district, but Skip Duvall, a brewer with the Fountain Square Brewing Company, said business is back on tap.
"It's booming. There's no question about it," said Duvall.
In fact, he said the brewing company is already gearing up to expand its draw.
"We bought new fermenters and equipment and we're hiring new people, so it's hard to keep up," he said.
Lacy said agreed there's a new energy. "We're getting more concert venues, bigger acts and more bars and restaurants to go to."
Jackie Garcia, a senior at IUPUI, recently moved to Fountain Square and loves it.
"There's such a great sense of community here," she said, but also knows it wasn't always the place to be.
Garcia said, "Five years ago if I'd said I wanted to move here people would have thought I was insane."
But a lot has changed. Shauta Marsh is with the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, which relocated to Fountain Square in 2009.
Marsh credits the areas "struggling artists" with much of the transformation.
"A lot of times artists are the pioneers in a neighborhood, " she said. "They don't have a lot of money but they want to make their work, so they move into areas that are difficult and people want to be near artists and their work."
Fountain Square is getting national play too. This week, several travel writers here for a convention toured the area.
Spud Hilton with the San Francisco Chronicle said, "I really like what they've done with the historic buildings and the way they've brought in new things. It has a very hip, contemporary vibe that is aimed at locals."
It's a vibe that also appeals to visitors like Ralph Garcia, here from Bluffton to visit his daughter Jacqui.
"It reminds me of Georgetown in DC," he said. "The avant garde way of living and the outdoor cafes and things, that's what I really like about it."
Business owners are hoping others will like it, too.