Monument Circle could lose bricks in $50M renovation

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One of our city's best-known landmarks could soon see some changes not just in the way it looks, but in the way it's used.

Friday's Memorial Day service is one of many events that takes place on Monument Circle. It also hosts concerts, the Strawberry Fest and next month a yoga event similar to one at Times Square.

The city hopes to draw even more events by turning the circle into more of a plaza.

Schultz says the city is "committed to providing some level of traffic on the circle but we're also moving toward more pedestrian traffic and retail space and cafes which we've grown to cherish."

Indy Downtown Inc.'s Bob Schultz says the city is pursuing a federal grant that would cover much of the makeover estimated at up to $50 million. The plan would limit traffic possibly to one lane, expand the pedestrian area and upgrade each of the four spokes. It would also involve replacing the bricks which have seen a lot of wear and tear with a new, different surface.

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of getting rid of the bricks, which some say provide a certain charm.

"I would not like that. It's part of history," said one passerby.

"The bricks are beautiful but they're not designed for all modes of transportation. We wouldn't use your typical concrete of asphalt. You'd see something that's aesthetically pleasing," said Schultz.

Maintaining the bricks isn't cheap. The city spends $125,000 a year to repair and replace them.

"That's tough. I love the history but I didn't know the expense," said one man.

"Whatever helps maintain it is the best way to go," said another circle visitor.

The owner of Giorgio's hates to lose the bricks but "I would love to get more events. I would more foot traffic and more business," said Giorgio Migliaccio.

If the city gets the grant, reconstruction - including the bricks - would start next summer. The re-construction would be done in phases with parts of the circle closed at times. That means the city may have to skip next year's "Circle of Lights" celebration during the holiday season.