Study finds downtown the new hot spot

A study found more people are moving downtown to live.
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The desire to live downtown is fueling a residential building boom, mostly in the rental market.

A new study by the IU Public Policy Institute done for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. looks at who's moving downtown and why.

It shows that the number of apartment units downtown increased from 3,590 to 4,738 between 2009 and 2012.

It found most of those moving downtown were either baby boomers or millennials and that 38% had moved from other states. The top two areas downtown drew new residents from were the Chicago area and Cincinnati/Dayton area followed by Milwaukee, Louisville and Detroit. The survey reports another 26% moved downtown from Indiana counties outside Marion County.

Cathy Evancho fits the demo. She recently moved back to Indianapolis after spending six years in Miami where she went to school and worked.

"I missed Indianapolis. It's so much friendlier," she said. "My family is here, I have a job here."

Instead of moving to the suburbs, Evancho chose to live in the heart of downtown.

"Downtown is busier. I feel like it's growing. There are more restaurants and things going on now," she said.

Last year, after graduating from Indiana University, Byron Stevenson moved to Indianapolis from the Chicago area. He moved here for a job with Buckingham Companies, which developed City Way, where he lives.

Stevenson says he considered Broad Ripple but wanted more of an urban vibe.

Pointing to his ceiling, he said, "you have exposed ductwork which makes it lofty and trendy."

His place isn't big and it's not cheap. A 580-square-foot apartment at the upscale complex runs $975 a month, but Stevenson says he likes being where the action is. For one, he's a stone's throw from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"At the end of the day, downtown living is easier," he said. "You're not using a car as often. You walk to get around to where you want to go, whether it's the Colts or Pacers game."

Most of the apartments going up downtown are geared toward young professionals, with good jobs who can afford to be choosy. The survey found "many work in life sciences, education, finance or a technical field such as engineering."

It also found they're making $25,000-$30,000 more per household than the average household in Marion County.

More people living downtown has meant more restaurants and retail businesses popping up to capitalize on the growth.

Tracy Robertson who owns the Mass Ave Pub says downtown has "undergone a ton of changes" she opened her bar and grill 12 years ago.

"When we started, we catered to few core neighborhoods," she said. "and we've seen a huge expansion just with the residential units going up on Mass Avenue...and more residents along the avenue is bringing more business to the avenue...and it's changing the whole face of where we are."

For now, it seems there's no stopping the growth.

The study said 3,500 new units are expected to come on line between 2014 and 2017.