Georgia St. struggles to live up to post-Super Bowl hype

Georgia Street hasn't lived up to the hype, but business owners say that's changing.

Georgia Street was in the center of the Indianapolis Super Bowl experience in 2012. The city spent close to $13 million turning it into more of a pedestrian and special events area.

It got high marks during the Super Bowl, but has struggled to live up to the post-game hype.

But Gordon Cocke, who owns The Pub, says things are looking up.

"The light at the end of the tunnel has gotten here and it's been a whole lot better," he said.

The manager of Harry & Izzy's is even more optimistic.

"Georgia Street is on fire. It really is," said Jeff Smith.

Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., hired last year to manage the venue, is scheduling more concerts and events. They've added more banners, speakers and replaced the landscaping.

"What was originally designed just didn't really fit the environment, the urban environment," said Georgia Street manager Melissa Thompson.

Thompson says there has been a learning curve.

"It's a challenging space and, just to be creative, I think one of the things I'm learning is how to think outside the box on what kind of events we can have down here," Thompson said.

For one, they plan an outdoor concert on the street on New Year's Eve. IDI was given $2 million to manage Georgia Street for 18 months. The biggest expense has been snow removal and maintenance, keeping the streets and sidewalks clean.

"It would be nice if this street here would have been for pedestrian walk only and no vehicles. I think the vehicles are kind of tearing the streets up," Cocke said.

Cars and trucks are leaving oil behind and still bumping into signs and light poles. But Georgia Street also provides access to garages and emergency vehicles.

The biggest issue for the sidewalks are black splotches, left by discarded pieces of gum.

IDI has also given out grants. Both The Pub and Harry and Izzy's received $10,000 each to expand their sidewalk cafes.

"With all the excitement going on, we wanted to be a vested partner. We bought all new railings and expanded our patio," Smith said.

While Thompson is pleased with the progress, she says there's more to be done.

"To see consistent programs and people using it everyday is what I look forward to and would like to see change and hopefully we can do that in the next year," she said.

IDI's contract expired Friday, but the city renewed it for another year. Eyewitness News has learned IDI actually still has money left over in its budget and is making money from rental incomes and sponsorships.