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Change of direction prompts City Market leader's resignation

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Jim Reilly, executive director of the Indianapolis City Market, plans to step down Sept. 13, but says he made the decision somewhat reluctantly.

City Market directors said in a Tuesday news release that Reilly resigned after they notified him of their desire to focus more on marketing and retail management than building operations.

Reilly, 64, on Wednesday morning told IBJ that he would have rather stayed, but understands the decision.

“I think there’s a desire to focus more on the marketing and not the operations; that’s their choice,” Reilly said. “I’m an operations guy, so that tells me they want to go in a different direction. That’s fine.”

A committee, which will include a tenant representative, will be formed to examine staffing needs, said City Market Chairman Wayne Schmidt, who also is president of Indianapolis-based architecture firm Schmidt Associates. A decision could be made in the next 90 days, he said.

Reilly has been overseeing a $3.5 million renovation of the historic market that is nearly finished.

"While Jim has been there, he's done a great job. In my mind, the market's back," Schmidt said. "It's just the time to kind of rethink things a little bit."

This is Reilly’s second stint leading the market. He served as executive director from 1994 to 2000 and again beginning in 2008

He earned an annual salary of $80,000, but took a voluntary 10-percent pay cut two months ago and reduced his hours to help the market’s finances.

The building for decades has relied on annual city subsidies ranging from about $300,000 to $691,000 to cover operations. But because of tight finances, the city in recent years has tried to wean the facility off government support.

Stevi Stoesz, the City Market’s director of business development and public relations, will be named interim executive director and assume Reilly’s duties until directors make a permanent decision.

Before returning to City Market, Reilly had offered management services to small, family-owned businesses. He said he may re-launch his consulting firm or explore not-for-profit opportunities.

The City Market, which houses fresh- and prepared-food vendors, has struggled to attract enough visitors as just a lunch-time destination. Last year, it added a second-floor bar, the Tomlinson Tap Room, that serves Indiana craft beers to help it attract evening and weekend business.

Directors are hopeful that the renovation will help make the building into a true public market. New lighting, restrooms and vendor stands have been added in the main hall, and the market’s east wing has been converted into a YMCA where bicyclists can store bikes and take showers.

The bike hub, which includes a cycle shop operated by Bicycle Garage Indy, opened on Wednesday. The YMCA is set to open Sept. 14.

And once slated for demolition, the City Market’s west wing could house office tenants as soon as early next year.

The renovation of the wings has left only the building's 20,000-square-foot main hall to oversee—another reason to evaluate the management structure, Schmidt said.

The market is 87-percent occupied.

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  • Outdoor banners
    As part of the marketing efforts, there should be consideration given to exterior vertical banners that announce food, shops, tap room, etc. I don't think a lot of people realize what's inside.
  • Makes No Sense
    Why would the city put $3.5MM in to a renovation of the facility, have Reilly manage it, and in the words of the chairman, "While Jim has been there, he's done a great job. In my mind, the market's back," and then change directions to focus on marketing? Sounds like a colossal waste of money. As a taxpayer, this bothers me. Reading between the lines, there's something fishy going on that is not being discussed.
  • More of the same
    This is deja vu all over again: Jim was the director for six years until 2000, Stevi became an interim director while a new executive director with a marketing background was found in 2001 which they did in Nikki Longworth and since then the cycle has repeated as we are seeing now. The Market needs to disassociate itself from the political connections that are perpetually limiting its full potential. The more things change the more they stay the same.
  • no follow through
    i think its pretty clear that mayor b likes to start projects and not finish them in this town. this is just another one for the history books. fountain square and now city market its always about what looks good on paper and what he can say when its election time which surprise surprise it now is. you all kid yourselfs if you think the city market chose fancy lights and colors mayro b did that and he would do it in fountain square if that would get him noticed there too
  • about timw
    It did not take a rocket scientist to realize
    that Jim did not know a thing about running the market. Nor does Stevi , it is nothing but a fast food court . Do not insult our city by calling it a City Market .
    • ACS
      "The city owns the lots on Alabama where MSA was- why not make those free after 6pm?"

      Remember that 50 year parking contract? Doing this woudl cut into ACS's revenue and it's prohibited.
    • Design
      I am puzzled as to why the colors used in the City Market don't respect the colors of the historic aspects of the building. Why do we have the bright red metal "ribbons" when we have light turquoise on many of the architectural details? And why do many of the stands have "ceilings"? The color mismatches and "ceilings" seem to say, "We want to divorce ourselves from the historic aspects of the building instead of capitalizing on and highlighting them."
      I agree that parking is a huge issue and think it should there should be free parking after 5:15.
      The new bike hub/YMCA is totally cool.
    • Parking
      I live downtown and can bike over to the market- and I still don't always think about going over there. But if I didn't live downtown I wouldn't even bother due to the lack of parking.

      The city owns the lots on Alabama where MSA was- why not make those free after 6pm? Oh, and have some shops stay open later. The market needs to be a destination or it's forever going to be for the lunchtime crowd.
      • YMCA
        There is also a gym,with full workout equipment. It's not just a bike hub.

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