When I started working downtown in 2006, I would park on College and Ohio and walk roughly a mile in through Lockerbie and Market East to work. Over the last eight years I’ve walked through the Market East and the Wholesale districts daily and have seen the development of this area of Downtown firsthand.

In 2006, One Indiana Square was a fairly dated skyscraper, freshly ventilated by gale force winds. This damage led to a sleek redesign of the building. The new look seems normal now, but serves as an example of how quickly development can change an area.

Allen Plaza

Allen Plaza + Scotty’s Brewhouse Downtown

The East side of Downtown was mostly empty lots and empty office spots. The parking lot that was Market Square Arena wasn’t even paved or landscaped, just a gravel lot. 333 Penn (now apartments) and 241 N. Penn (now home to Raymond James & Associates) were both empty. The Consolidated Building was empty (soon to be Penn Tower, apartments with an attached hotel and offices).  The corner spot (once a Burger King) was empty (now BARcelona and India Garden). On Washington Street there was the Zipper Building, an architecturally unique, empty office building (now remodeled offices and Fogo De Chou).  Jefferson Plaza was empty (now home to Scotty’s, and Allen Plaza’s upscale condos). Further West, aside from ISO’s spot and Rock Bottom, the retail and restaurant spots (Red’s, Libertine, Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings, Joseph A. Banks, Pearings…) were mostly empty. There was no Cultural Trail running through it, or a Bike Share…

LucasOil2007

Lucas Oil Stadium during development in 2007

The City Market spread out through both wings with empty booths. Now it is a vibrant destination hosting a full YMCA, office spaces, cool event space in the Platform, the winter Market, Tomlinson Taproom, and full and hopping food booths. Also in this time: Lucas Oil Stadium and an expanded Indiana Convention Center; a remodeled Central Library; Development on Mass Ave like 3 Mass, restaurants and shops; North of College (Trailside, Black Market, Indy Reads, etc); CityWay and the development South of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse (coming soon: a huge new YMCA); Fountain Square’s explosion of development; JW Marriott complex; many new large scale apartments like the Cosmopolitan, 800 Cap, 9 on the Canal, etc.

Artistry Apartments

Game changing development can happen quickly. Sometimes it only takes one project to flip an entire district. Having experienced the Wholesale District filling up and coming alive again, I am even more anxious to see what will happen in Market East. Developments like Artistry Apartments (an abandoned office building) and Circa join existing developments like the Hudson and Maxwell. Soon we will see the MSA footprint filled with Market Square Tower (with a Whole Foods!) and the Cummins office complex. To the West: a new Transit Center and a redeveloped City County Building lawn. To the East: Angie’s List expansion. The potential new Justice Center opens up more development. Indianapolis residents should be proud of all that has been accomplished downtown and excited about a future of new exciting developments.

Click here for more information on Downtown Indy Cultural Districts.

Blog by: Jim Rawlinson