By Jennifer Hanson
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.
This week Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., along with city and community leaders, revealed strategies, tactics and priorities for Downtown Indianapolis as a result of a year-long planning effort called Velocity. Downtown stakeholders, business leaders, residents and civic partners gathered for IDI’s annual meeting at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hall at Union Station to discuss the co-created, five-year strategic action plan for Downtown.
For the past year, Indianapolis civic leaders have been working on Velocity, which will serve as a refreshed vision, framework and action plan that is intended to guide future improvements and focus investments in Downtown – especially for the next 18 months to five years.
“Thanks to decades of planning and great leadership, Downtown Indianapolis serves as a model for urban revival across the country,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “Velocity charts a path forward to ensure that Indy remains a safe, clean and beautiful place for people to live, work, visit and raise a family.”
Sherry Seiwert, president of IDI agrees. “Downtown Indianapolis has fortified its position as Indiana’s center of commerce, government, medicine and education,” said Siewert. “For the past 40 years, Downtown has been planned to be a commuter downtown that efficiently brings people in and out. A key highlight of the Velocity plan is that moving forward, Downtown should also be viewed as a collection of multi-dimensional neighborhoods by adding desirable livability amenities, calming key streets and enhancing sustainability efforts.”
The Velocity steering committee was led by chair Krista Skidmore, principal at FlashPoint. Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA), under the direction of Brad Segal, is the consultant hired by IDI to manage the project. Additionally, more than 25 community leaders comprised the Velocity steering committee.
Velocity had six working advisory groups that focused on critical issues and economic sectors that contribute to Downtown’s overall vitality. The process also included forums with residents of neighborhoods adjacent to Downtown, as well a public survey that generated more than 3,000 responses. Public outreach efforts engaged a broad cross-section of Indianapolis’ residents, employers, workers and leaders into the planning process and helping identify challenges, opportunities and priorities. Some of the plan’s tactics include:
Economic Development strategies and highlighted tactics
- Encourage innovation and foster entrepreneurial businesses and sites.
- Connect small business with existing education, technology and medical industry anchors.
- Match pop-up retail (i.e. interim, seasonal uses) and new concept stores with vacant locations
- Improve, enhance and expand downtown’s core industries (e.g., research, medical, office, tourism, retail, etc.).
- Develop new marketing tools to better position Downtown for new businesses.
- Create free Wi-Fi zones within Downtown core.
Housing, Neighborhoods & Livability strategies and highlighted tactics.
- Drive Downtown as a collection of multi-dimensional work, live and play neighborhoods.
- Identify sites in residential neighborhoods to create micro-parks, community gardens, play spaces, dog parks, etc.
- Create a promotional toolkit for recruiters, realtors and Downtown workers about Downtown’s current livability assets (housing, shopping, fitness, education, etc.).
- Investigate feasibility of an additional public K-8 school in the Downtown core.
- Strengthen connections to neighborhoods surrounding Downtown.
- Target and enhance underpasses at key gateways that connect to surrounding neighborhoods (incorporate lighting, murals, etc.).
- Create a Downtown residents’ association to support the needs of residents and provide loyalty benefits with local businesses.
Downtown Environment & Experience strategies and highlighted tactics
- Maintain a clean and safe Downtown experience.
- Drive the passage of a panhandling ordinance and develop/execute communications plan.
- Institute street-level ambassadors on Georgia Street to improving safe and clean initiatives.
- Offer and articulate a vibrant experience day and night for residents and visitors.
- Assess, articulate and activate a refreshed branding campaign that reinforces what’s distinct, compelling, and authentic about the Downtown experience.
- Create promotional materials for businesses to encourage/facilitate more outdoor dining.
- Create a campaign to promote local artisans (e.g., PUP seats, local foods, artwork, etc.).
Multi-Modal Transportation Solutions strategies and highlighted tactics
- Promote and enhance public transit options that better connect Downtown to surrounding neighborhoods.
- Participate in the rollout of and promote the new electric car share program for Downtown residents, employees and visitors.
- Investigate a plan to convert key/selected one-way streets to two-ways (focused first on Michigan Street and College Avenue).
- Continue supporting Indy Connect and the future of transit.
- Increase awareness and promote all options for getting around Downtown, especially walking and biking.
- Investigate a plan to convert Vermont Street as primarily a pedestrian and bike corridor (connecting the east and west sides of Downtown).
- Implement a campaign with local businesses and attractions to share all mobility options (e.g., bike, bus, walking directions).
Public Spaces & Activation strategies and highlighted tactics
- Utilize new and existing public/green spaces to engage a diverse range of users and stimulate new development.
- Create fully functioning urban park (University Park) including safe/fenced play area, interactive water features, opportunities for food/beverage, recreational activities (e.g., Bocce, dog park, etc.).
- Enhance Monument Circle supporting a vibrant café and retail destination.
- Advocate for installation/maintenance of public restrooms downtown.
- Collaborate to maintain public spaces and assets within Downtown in beautiful/safe condition.
- Assess maintenance/repair needs of public spaces and identify potential financing tools.
- Create plan to improve Downtown underpasses (repairing concrete, upgrading lighting, general beautification, murals, etc.).
Arts, Culture Sports & Attractions strategies and highlighted tactics
- Promote stronger co-marketing and collaborations that will cultivate participation in events and experiences.
- Encourage guerrilla-style street events (i.e. Chalk Fest) that surprise people and utilize public.
- Partner with universities to create a “Collaboratory” where students will help to address challenges/solutions for Downtown.
- Create loyalty program that engages residents with event and attraction discounts and activities.
- Build a stronger network and more collaborative infrastructure to support arts, culture, sports and attractions.
- Encourage arts/cultural/sports organizations to include new amenities such as outdoor seating, cafes, etc. at or near their facilities.
- Create a plan and select key sites to encourage participation in pop-up entertainment (e.g., films, music, sports, chalk, magic, etc.).
Since its mission is solely focused on developing, managing and marketing the geographic perimeters of Downtown, IDI will have the majority of the responsibility to enact the plan. Other civic organizations and the City of Indianapolis have agreed to steward various tactics through the execution phases of Velocity, including the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indiana Sports Corp, Indy Chamber, Indy Hub, IUPUI, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, LISC and Visit Indy.
Leadership from these organizations and other subject matter experts will serve as an ad-hoc Velocity Implementation Team and meet periodically over the next five years to continue the refinement, development and prioritization exercises required of the plan. To download a complete version of the plan, go to www.indyvelocity.com.
By John Dedman
Indiana Sports Corporation
The Meijer Tail Greater Party on Georgia Street will provide a vibrant downtown celebration for fans, visitors and central Indiana residents leading up to the 2013 Big Ten Football Championship Game. The event runs from 3-9 p.m. on Friday, December 6, and Noon-8 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, 2013.
Free to attend, the Meijer Tail Greater Party on Georgia Street includes a Major League Eating contest featuring the World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail, food trucks, a beverage garden, college football action at the TV Lounge, a live band and DJ, the Meijer Mobile Playground, merchandise, a photo opportunity with a life-size Stagg Championship Trophy, and much more to offer the ultimate tailgating experience.
St. Elmo Steak House will host the world’s first shrimp cocktail-eating championship on Saturday, December 7 at 3 p.m., involving six to eight of the sport’s top competitive eaters. Renowned world competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut, who is expected to set a world record, highlights the field to compete for the title of World Shrimp Cocktail-Eating Champion. Prior to the main event, there will be two undercard rounds featuring the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) vs. the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD), and an Ohio State-Michigan State fan face-off.
Indianapolis-based Soul Street Band will play Friday night from 6-9 p.m., and Ryan Hickey, also known as DJ Helicon, will perform on Saturday from 4-8 p.m. Hickey, co-founder of ORANJE, also performed at the 2012 Super Bowl Village.
The Big Ten Conference and Indiana Sports Corp have assigned downtown restaurants, designated by the Leaders and Legends Divisions, so fans can eat, drink and interact with their fellow fans. Leaders Division fans have the options of Buffalo Wild Wings, Champions, Champps, Harry & Izzy’s, Ram Restaurant & Brewery, and Scotty’s Brewhouse, while Legends Division fans will enjoy Hard Rock Café, High Velocity, Indianapolis Colts Grille, O’Reilly’s Irish Bar and Restaurant, Slippery Noodle Inn, and Weber Grill.
The third annual Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played on Saturday, December 7 between Michigan State and Ohio State at Lucas Oil Stadium, with kick-off set for 8:17 p.m. ET. Tickets are sold out, but those interested in purchasing a suite should contact Stephanie Arnold of Indiana Sports Corp at (317) 237-5036. Other fan events and programs include Big Ten Fan Fest presented by Dr Pepper, Big Ten RV Nation, and SaturDAY of Service presented by St.Vincent Health.
By Amanda Dorman
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.
Enjoy affordable fun for the family over the holidays. Each of the Downtown Indianapolis attractions listed below will offer FREE admission on one of 12 days leading up to Christmas. For more information, visit http://www.indydt.com/12freedays.cfm.
Friday, Dec. 13
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, open noon – 6 p.m.
- Get a glimpse into Kurt Vonnegut’s personal items and artwork or pull a book off the library shelves and relax with it in a comfy chair. All guests will receive a FREE bumper sticker.
Saturday, Dec. 14
Pan Am Pavilion, open noon – 8 p.m.
- Skate for FREE in the same arena where the Indiana Ice play! Note: skate rental is extra or you can bring your own. Enjoy the festivities on Georgia Street during the FREE City Sidewalks presented by BMO Harris Bank.
Sunday, Dec. 15
Elevator rides to the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle and Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, open 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Did you know you could take an elevator ride to the top of the Monument? The observatory at the top offers breathtaking views of Downtown Indianapolis. Also visit the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum (see photo above) in the basement of the Monument.
Monday, Dec. 16
Indiana State Museum, open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Experience Celebration Crossing and the much-loved L.S. Ayres Santa Claus Express train. Santa and Mrs. Claus will entertain visitors in their cozy home on level 3 of the museum.
Tuesday, Dec. 17
James Whitcomb Riley Museum, open 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Step back to the beginning of the 20th century – just as the great Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley experienced it for 23 years of his fascinating life.
Wednesday, Dec. 18
Morris-Butler House, open noon – 3 p.m.
- This beautiful restored 1865 home showcases the architecture, history and culture. The home also houses a collection of nineteenth-century sculptures, paintings and lithographs from all over the world.
Thursday, Dec. 19
The Indianapolis Museum of Art, open 5 – 8:30 p.m.
- Grab some ideas for your own holiday décor during the IMA’s annual Winter Solstice. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Oldfields, the IMA will be looking to the 1900s and 1910s for decor inspiration. Warm up in the Lilly House with historic holiday decorations and music, then finish up your shopping at the Greenhouse and Museum.
Friday, Dec. 20
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Check out the impressive display of 75 vehicles, including The Marmon “Wasp,” which won the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911 and an exhibit honoring Parnelli Jones, 1963 Indy 500 winner.
Saturday, Dec. 21
Indiana Historical Society, open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Spend the day enjoying the latest offerings – especially Destination Indiana and You Are There. Grab a family photo next to the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
Sunday, Dec. 22
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, open 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
- Holiday season at the authentically-restored 1875 Italianate home of President Benjamin Harrison features Victorian holiday adornment.
Monday, Dec. 23
National Institute of Fitness and Sport (NIFS), open 5:15 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- Put in a little time on a treadmill or in a group fitness class and enjoy that holiday Eggnog without the guilt. NIFS offers an indoor NBA regulation-sized basketball court, Pilates studio, group fitness studio, 200-meter indoor track, fully-equipped weight room and more than 100 pieces of cardio equipment. Parking is available directly across the facility in the Riverwalk Garage (NIFS will validate.) Children ages 11-17 must be accompanied by an adult. A nursery is available for children under age 11 (see hours on website).
Tuesday, Dec. 24
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Holidays sparkle at the world’s largest children’s museum. Visit Jolly Days Winter Wonderland and experience the giant Yule Slide. Take part in a number of seasonal favorites including skating in socks on an indoor “pond,” climbing and sliding on the Snow Castle, “ice” fishing and pretend-baking holiday goodies in the Tradition Kitchen.
For more information about downtown Indianapolis, visit http://www.indydt.com/, or call 317-237-2222.
By Jennifer Hanson
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.
City Sidewalks presented by BMO Harris Bank offers fun, free Downtown holiday experience
“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style… In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.” Silver Bells
Enjoy a new holiday tradition in Downtown Indianapolis as Georgia Street comes to life for City Sidewalks presented by BMO Harris Bank. For two days, Georgia Street will be transformed into a winter wonderland complete with Santa, holiday shopping, ice skating, holiday performances, a live nativity, kid’s activities, fresh-cut Christmas trees for sale and more.
City Sidewalks will take place Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, from 5 – 9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14 from noon to 9 p.m.
Holiday wreaths and lights will adorn Georgia Street as holiday music from B105.7 is played on newly installed Klipsch Audio speakers up and down the Georgia Street Boardwalk. Plus, residents living on the east block of Georgia Street will have a window decorating contest that will add to the festive atmosphere.
FREE ice skating will be available at the Pan Am Pavilion Saturday, Dec. 14. Bring your skates or rent skates on site.
Enjoy local and seasonal food including roasted nuts, popcorn and various food from your favorite Georgia Street restaurants. Mulled cider, hot chocolate and traditional holiday spiced wine will be available at St. John Catholic Church. Additionally, take a tour of the church, view a live outdoor nativity scene or decorate cookies with your kids.
Numerous local artisans will sell holiday wares including jewelry, candy, gourmet popcorn, paper art, hot sauces, wine and more in a festive atmosphere.
Be sure to bring your list and visit Santa outside the Omni Severin Downtown Hotel. Enjoy local choirs, singers including the Indianapolis Opera and other musicians throughout the weekend.
Georgia Street is Downtown Indianapolis’ newest and coolest gathering place. Georgia Street restaurants including Hooters, Harry & Izzy’s, Tilted Kilt, Howl at the Moon, The Pub Indianapolis, The Old Spaghetti Factory and Kilroy’s Bar and Grill will be open and offering great deals.
For more information, visit http://www.georgiastreetindy.com/citysidewalks/. or call 317-237-2222.
15 Public Events in Indianapolis and Indiana
- THU-SUN: Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
- SAT: 3rd Annual Big Ten Championship Football Game at Lucas Oil Stadium
- FRI-SUN: Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra ‘Yuletide Celebration’ at Hilbert Circle Theatre
- SUN: St. Nikolaus Festival at the Indianapolis Athenaeum
- TUE: Taylor Martin’s Indy Magic Monthly at Theatre on the Square
- FRI-SUN: ‘The Nutcracker’ by Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre at Pike PAC
- FRI-SUN: Ride the Polar Bear Express Train at the Fishers Train Station
- SAT: 4th Annual Fortville Winter Festival in Hancock County
- FRI-SUN: ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ at the Basile Opera Center
- SAT: Bill Cosby Live at The Centre in Evansville
- SAT: Indiana Wind Symphony Live at the Carmel Palladium
- THU-SUN: ‘The Nutcracker’ by Butler Ballet at Clowes Memorial Hall
- MON-SUN: Conservatory Crossing at Garfield Park Conservatory
- TUE: Community Tuesday at White River State Park
- FRI: Winterfest 2013 in Downtown Anderson