Ballard announces $4 million City Market overhaul

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Mayor Greg Ballard is scheduled to announce nearly $4 million worth of improvements to the downtown Indianapolis City Market at a news conference Friday morning.

The bulk of the money—generated mostly by a downtown tax increment financing district—will underwrite $2.7 million in aesthetic upgrades to the City Market’s main hall, such as a redesign of vendor stand facades, improved lighting and colorful hanging pennants. The revamp also includes a regular schedule of musicians and performing artists to attract visitors to the venue, and the beginnings of a new strategic focus on fresh food.

Ballard will also announce a $400,000 city investment to transform the City Market’s east wing into a bicycle hub adjacent to the Cultural Trail. The remaining $800,000 will come from budget savings derived from efficiency gains the market found through an independent energy audit.

“With the Market makeover, we are extending development of our dynamic downtown area to the east side of the Circle and demonstrating that all of downtown has rich cultural, retail and recreational opportunities,” Ballard said in a news release.

In a telephone interview, Indianapolis City Market Corp. President Wayne Schmidt said stand owners were informed earlier this week about the details of the interior redesign project, which is expected to last nearly a year.

“This is coming to fruition. Is it easy? No. Will it all be in place in two months? No,” Schmidt said. “But come next April or May, when construction is finished and there’s music every day, it will be a destination where people want to go.”

Founded in 1886 and located just north of the City-County Building at Delaware and Alabama streets, City Market has long been a lunchtime institution. But its business has endured a slow, steady slide for decades as its customer base moved to the suburbs.

Indianapolis spent $2.7 million three years ago to renovate the guts of the City Market’s historic Main Hall, but the overhaul did little to boost business. The infrastructure work, which closed the market for months, ran over budget and took longer than expected, causing some vendors to lose business or close. The venue is now plagued with vacancies.

Schmidt pledged that City Market will handle the upgrade project differently this time. Construction crews will work around vendor schedules, he said, doing no noisy or smelly work during peak lunch-traffic hours.

City Market has about a $1 million annual budget, a third of which is subsidized by the city. Ballard’s priority has been to make the market self-sustaining. Attracting a vibrant mix of small businesses is one key to that goal. And the market is starting to make inroads.

Joining Ballard and Schmidt at the news conference will be Cindy Hawkins, owner of baked treats-maker Circle City Sweets. Hawkins opened her stand in the market about a month ago. She reports business is already going well, and she expects it to boom once all the upgrades are complete next year.

“So many people know about the [City] Market,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting people over here, back into the market. When that happens, this will be an amazing location.”


  • Spare Us!
    Trying to keep that white elephant alive is like advocating memorial horse troughs because there used to be horses downtown!
  • Construction Company?
    Does anyone know the name of the company who is planning on doing the work? Thanks!
  • Yes
    The City Market is a fine civic asset to our city and metropolitan area. We need to begin thinking about long-term solutions, instead of quick-fixes.

    (Hint to the City: The Market will NEVER be a destination until the MSA site is fully developed.)
  • This Could Be Huge
    Tie this race with a bicycle trade show at the new convention center and have the Mini-Marathon organizers lead the "Tour De Indy" using their contact lists since these runners would be the target market.

    Tap local National Institute for Fitness & Sport, NCAA, IHSAA, Finishline, bike shops, and manufacturers like Speedway's Zipp Speed Weaponry as partners.
  • Development
    I think the city would have been better off trying to develop the Market Square lots first. That area needs more foot traffic during the weekends and evenings. The only way that will happen will be to add more residents.
  • Parking, really?
    Angelo, do you really think there is a lack of nearby parking? There is two entire blocks of surface lots (the old market square arena) plus it's parking garage, right across the street. The problem seems to be this suburban mentality of "parking should be free", when it is actually never free, it's just subsidized by everyone else.
  • West Wing Demo?
    Are they still planning to tear down the west wing? Someone please tell me yes. I wish they were tearing down both. Those horribly designed additions repel people on their own.
  • Poor Timing
    In an already beleagured financial condition, why would the Indianapolis mayor pick this timing for a $4M spend? The timing is bad and Marion county taxpayers are already overburdened. Enough is enough!
  • Bike Race
    Why not create a national bike race as large as the mini marathon with the city market as the center of a "Tour De Indy Race" to promote the city and market.

    Open a "Bicycle Garage store" to sell custom bikes and repairs to drive business during the summer.
    • Just a suggestion
      More retail and events are great, but the lack of nearby parking and lack of enclosed walkways are part of the problem.

      Maybe turn part of it into a beer hall or wine garden with a local brewary/winery to complement the local markets and music/events.

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

      2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

      3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

      4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

      5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?