Indianapolis focused on hot spots for future growth

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What's next for Indianapolis? Where will people live and work in the next 20 years? City officials have spent the last year mapping out downtown's future.

"This project has been so influential. It really changes the way we see downtown," said Deputy Mayor Michael Huber.

Among the top hot spots is the old GM Stamping Plant which closed nearly a year ago. It was a huge blow to the working-class neighborhood, but a study done last summer showed it ripe for redevelopment. As Huber notes, it's 115-acres, close to downtown and along the White River.

He said long-term plans call for housing, retail, green space and a bridge connecting the site to South Street, which is expected to become increasingly visible with the City Way development going up near Delaware. The bridge would also connect the area to the Stadium District, which got lots of pay during the Super Bowl.

Some entrepreneurs have suggested developing an urban warehouse district there with shops and restaurants. The Babe Denny neighborhood, south of McCarty, which has become increasingly industrial, could also be primed for a residential comeback.

"You have some historic housing stock, which gives it a unique feel," said Huber.

The 16 Tech District on the northwest side is another emerging hot spot - envisioned as the city's life sciences corridor. Work recently began on redevelopment of the old Bush Stadium. It's being converted into loft-style apartments with office space to follow.

Huber said given the area's proximity to the hospitals and IUPUI, "We already know a lot of companies that are collaborators or suppliers that want to be close to the university and hospitals."

He said that's why the city has spent money on nearby street and infrastructure improvements.

The Market District is also expected to take off in the coming years. A new housing/retail development is finally moving forward at the old Bank One building.

"As that project breaks ground we think it will trigger a lot of new ideas for the old MSA site," Huber said. City-owned parking lots are currently on that site.

He said any development would likely be mixed use, one that promotes density.

There's also talk of building a new criminal justice center nearby. That can't happen soon enough for the vendors at nearby City Market. Cindy Hawkins, who runs Circle City Sweets, says the area can and should be a happening place.

"It's important for all vendors that downtown provide activities and excitement for areas so they're not just dead corridors open for Monday through Friday 9-5 but go into the evenings and on weekends and weekends," she said. 

See the study. (PDF)