Cummins to build downtown office building for 400 workers

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Cummins Inc. announced Wednesday morning that it will build its global distribution headquarters on the two remaining parcels of the Market Square Arena site downtown.

Cummins downtown HQ mapThe $30 million development, which will include ground-floor retail and a parking garage, initially will house 225 Cummins workers but will contain space for a total of 400. The Columbus, Ind.-based diesel engine maker currently employs about 100 employees in in multi-tenant office space downtown. Those existing workers will be consolidated into the new building.

Mayor Greg Ballard announced the project early Wednesday. IBJ reported late last year the deal was brewing.

Cummins emphasized in the city’s press release that its overall corporate headquarters will remain in Columbus.

Cummins will purchase the four-acre site bounded by Market, Alabama, Washington and New Jersey streets from the city for $4.3 million. The city said it will invest $3.3 million in infrastructure improvements and parking on the site and abate 70 percent of the development’s property taxes for 10 years.
Cummins said it has not yet begun designing the building but is committed to contributing a significant architectural element to the downtown Indianapolis landscape.
Construction is expected to begin within the year, with the building opening by late 2016.


  • hife@gmail.com
    Some people are just ridiculous and honestly know nothing about the topics they rant about. Cummins employees almost 7,000 people in Columbus. There are almost 3,300 people located in a three block radius in downtown Columbyus....go ahead...drive down here and see our busy downtown and Cummins campus. Moving 150 or so employees will be far from sucking the life from here....in fact we actually really need the office space for expanding units so this will free up space. Columbus is a small city of about 44k people....I think they will manage just fine without these 150 people when their seats will be replaced anyway. Get a clue people....wow....not surpised though.
  • @Downtowner
    The backlash is against the CHOICE OF LOCATION, not Cummmins, not the building itself. No one said anything about Cummins. Stop taking people's words out of context.
  • Parking lots
    Why so much backlash against Cummins, a major company choosing to invest in our downtown? Where's the backlash over all the parking lots/garages sitting on prime real estate downtown. At least the Cummins building will be productive. Sheesh.
  • 3 stories?
    Will this really only be 3 stories tall?! What a waste of downtown land. If they only need that much space, why don't they lease in one of the existing buildings that already have that much space? Cummins is free to not want to do so, but the taxpayers then shouldn't have to pay for it!!
  • Small town mentality
    It really is mind boggling how no one in this town has any concept of urban design. First of all, the site in question is three blocks from the Circle. How is that possibly the edge of downtown when the original 1821 mile square was platted out even farther to East Street???? By that definition, the JW Marriott and Lucas Oil Stadium are nowhere near downtown. Second, it's not an obsession with high rises, it's an obsession with good urban planning and placemaking, two things that Indianapolis desperately lacks. See, the issue here is not the three story building. The issue is the location of three story building three blocks from the Circle. Skyscrapers are concentrated in high-density areas for a reason whereas a three story building can be built virtually anywhere. Third, the MSA proposal is not overbuilt; if anything it's underbuilt because the base of the building takes up half of a city block. A building of that height should have only a 1/4 block footprint at the most (read: Riley Towers). A city should be built like a city, not some small hick Hoosier town. Some of us want our city to look more like the former and less like the latter.
  • Building height
    I don't get the obsession with extreme building heights. I live near this area and if you walk from the MSA site toward downtown, yes there are taller buildings, but if you walk away from it in any direction, aside from the (still yet to be built) 28 story tower, other than that there is 4-story residential, 3-story residential, 5-story residential, 2- and 3-story commercial, etc. There is even a 1 story bail bonds building and a gas station within a couple of block radius. The tallest current building in the area (other than the ones that are closer to monument circle) is the 7 story market square garage. To the south of the MSA site there is a 3? story hotel. So this building is really going to be on the edge of the downtown core, in an area where tallish buildings give way to mid-rise buildings. If it is built to 6 stories as some here are speculating, it will not be out of place in any way. If anything, the "odd building out" in this neighborhood is going to be the Flaherty and Collins tower, which is only 28 stories because it's being subsidized by the city.
  • Skyscrapers and neighborhoods
    Paul Lambie, while I understand where you're coming from, I'm not sure anyone here is saying the skyscrapers serve to cover up struggling urban neighborhoods. Indy surely does have struggling neighborhoods (and thriving ones too) but so does every city. Houston has tons of glitzy highrises, and just blocks away, on the near west side, are ramshackle old shotgun houses ready to tip over. And the west side is the premier side of town for Houston! The dichotomy just doesn't fully correlate, though it clearly identifies a legit problem on its own terms.
  • Floor-Area Ratio
    Young Hoosier, etc--not everybody is expecting skyscrapers for the sake of skyscrapers. I think the sad fact here is that a Fortune 500 company can locate 3 blocks from the dead center of downtown and still expect a good return on an essentially-low rise building. It's a testament to how low the land values are in Indy. There really isn't a demand for this structure, and I'd rather see Cummins either locate in a place where a 6-story building is more suitable (i.e., near the Lilly Campus or 10th and Meridian) or just lease up some of the vacant office space downtown for the time being. World-class architecture be danged--having a low FAR in such a prime and HUGE location (one full city block!) is still sub-par urban design.
  • Cummins Obviously Knows Its own Business Needs
    Cummins is building a $30 million building. It will not even be much of a mid-rise building, let alone a "skyscraper."
  • What Skyscraper?
    Cummins is building a $30 million building, which means it will not be a "skysraper." Simon spent $55 million nearly 10 years ago to build its 14 story mid-rise headquarters. $30 million will likely build a rather modest building today.
  • Don't get it
    My only issue with the skyscraper fascination is that no one seems to have a good answer as to "why". Why do we need a skyscraper? Will it improve quality of life? Will it make Indy seem more legit on the national scene? I do believe that Indy residents are often too shy and need to speak up to get the world-class designs we deserve. But world-class starts at street level and goes up, not the other way around.
    • Skyscrapers as distractions
      Some of the recent comments are pretty funny. I think it's fair to sum them up as: "we need tall buildings to distract everyone from realizing that Indy is full of deteriorated neighborhoods." Does the Renaissance Center accomplish this in Detroit? Furthermore, why would we want to hide the fact that older urban neighborhoods need a lot of improvement? Who would benefit from such a strategy?
    • Demand a skyline
      I disagree and believe the opposite. Hoosiers tend to be modest and conservative, this is why we need to be bold and ambitious in Indianapolis. We need to show that there is a group in Indiana that wants more and expects more. The city needs a better skyline, and this is why there is disappointment on this particular lot. We love the fact that Cummins is going to be downtown, but maybe another lot would have been a better choice. Go big or go home. Why not expect more. Two hundred years of being modest is enough.
    • Point taken, but
      "What" does make a good point, in that comparing cities in the US and Europe is apples and oranges. However, the "miles of dense and functioning neighborhoods" don't just happen - they are direct results of choices made over many years; many of those choices have to do with the built environment. Just Google map a street in central Paris, versus central Dubai, and you'll see what I mean. I'm not against tall buildings in Indy; I actually think they're awesome. But its pointless to just ask for 15 more stories because tall buildings make the skyline prettier.
    • I disagree
      Actually, size does matter. Whether you want to admit it or not skylines are direct reflections of their cities, especially in the United States. We barely have one a skyline as it is because our cityscape is so aesthetically ugly and spread out. Why do you think the MSA project created so much buzz? Cities like Paris and DC don't need skylines because they have centuries of history and miles of dense, functioning neighborhoods--neither of which Indianapolis has. Meanwhile our core city neighborhoods resemble either some podunk town in Kentucky or bombed out Detroit. Downtown is all we have, no sense in wasting precious real estate with projects like these.
    • Silly Hoosiers
      Young Hoosier is right. Size doesn't matter. Some of America's best cities have no skylines at all, and beyond a certain point tall buildings are horribly inefficient. Not sure what Cummins' plans are for this space, but adding more space to a downtown with 20%+ vacancy rates is silly. There are plenty of contiguous options available downtown for these folks. Sounds like this building is getting built for the tax break alone. Since many of the employees are already downtown, their consolidation will create more vacancies in existing buildings. Our city is so short-sighted. It's tragic that we're attempting to build a Potemkin downtown in the middle of Center Township, an area that went from 330,000 people in 1960 to less than 150,000 today.
      • @Maria
        I said that everyone always wants these developments to be 10-15 MORE stories than what is announced. My point is that building height has little to do with how much that building adds to a city, despite what most commenters on this site think. Some of the tallest buildings in the world are very poorly designed and actually are a detriment to the surrounding area.
        • RE: Young Hoosier
          Who is saying that every development be 10-15 stories? There are very few building in this city that are even that tall. All people are saying is that when the city is gifting away taxpayer money, we should expect something more than what you would see in Carmel or Keystone at the Crossing.
        • Can I join the club?
          How do I get membership in the 70% property Tax abatemant club?
        • Need Landmark Building
          Too small to justify giving them TWO prime blocks for a small building that costs about the same as the new Orangutan exhibit at the zoo. They need to build something truly significant for themselves or get a complementary co-tenant for a building that everyone can take pride in.
        • Why move the courts and jails?
          Doesn't the fact that the MSA tower and Cummins project will be built without any agreement yet on whether and where the courts and jails will be relocated work against the argument that the courts and jails are inhibiting development from occurring nearby? Are F&C and Cummins committing their tens of millions on just an educated guess that the jails will disappear? Or is the presence of the jails not actually the development deterrent that the mayor's office has been claiming?
        • @jeffs
          Jeff, Have you been to the City County Bldg at all. Unfortunately, the criminal courts and the probation dept tend to attract extremely disrespectful, arrogant, obnoxious and uncivilized individuals from the city. The jails release the same individuals into the streets near the CCB. With such a negative vibe/presence in the former MSA area, developments like the F&C tower, Cummins (including the first floor retail on those sites) would face a significant uphill battle to provide a safe/secure and desirable neighborhood to work/live.
        • Height
          Agree does not have to be a tall building but this is a whole block. Agree streetscape is very important. But think of the Pan Am Plaza/Block. This is a large urban space.
        • @Jeff S
          Jeff, Have you been to the City County Bldg at all. Unfortunately, the criminal courts and the probation dept tend to attract extremely disrespectful, arrogant, obnoxious and uncivilized individuals from the city. The jails release the same individuals into the streets near the CCB. With such a negative vibe/presence in the former MSA area, developments like the F&C tower, Cummins (including the first floor retail on those sites) would face a significant uphill battle to provide a safe/secure and desirable neighborhood to work/live.
        • inferiority complex
          Indy residents seem to have an inferiority complex when it comes to tall buildings. Why does every development need to add 10-15 more stories and "add to the skyline"? Look at one of the greatest cities in the world to live in - Paris. Buildings there top out at 7-8 stories. We always confuse height with density when talking about a vibrant city.
          • Dollars
            The new Orangutan building is 27 MILLION. I hope Cummins does not put their 30 MILLION building in the middle but to one side. Sounds like a smaller building for a whole block.
          • Elephant on the street
            I don't understand why there has been zero discussion of using this space as the "Justice Complex" we are attempting to move to god knows where. Why not redevelop the lot as well as the parking lots to the south and south west to build replacement courts and jails as well as the other necessary space we are considering.
          • Really should get out more
            Lots of commenters here apparently know very little about Columbus. It is a small city, not small town, and it is among the fastest growing small cities in the US. Cummins employs thousands, not hundreds there; this new division headquarters will hardly "suck the life out of Columbus". Finally, though Cummins may not want it known, their CEO is an Indy resident. Their director of executive communication is a former Indianapolis candidate for mayor. Even if the C-suite officially moves to Indy, Columbus will be just fine. 1,000 or more well-paid MBAs and engineers still work in Columbus (though I suspect more than a few live in the south suburbs of Indy; it's a shorter commute from Greenwood and Center Grove to Downtown Columbus than from the south 'burbs to the North Meridian Office Corridor in Carmel).
          • Cummins Is Good Corp Citizen
            The site has been sitting empty for years. It is good to have a financially solid, home grown, and community-minded company develop the space regardless of how tall the building might be. It doesn't have to be tall to be architecturally significant.
          • Architect
            Cummins, please please please keep your word and do not use an Indy based architect for this project. Our downtown can only take so much mediocre architecture that all looks the same.
          • Patience please....
            Let's try having a little patience before going off half-cocked... If you have ever been to Columbus, you already know that the city boasts many architectural gems... they have already said that the new building will be be significant - so why jump to conclusions? What if the architect decides that given the downtown location, the site calls for a taller building with a smaller footprint with more greenspace for either future expansion or public enjoyment? I can easily see this as an option that they would explore... Whatever is done - this space will be a quantum improvement over the old Market Square Arena building- with it's white dome and cooling tower plume stain on the metal siding... take a deep breath and put on some boxer shorts if your underwear it too tight.
          • Needs to be taller
            This is a nice development, but it definitely needs to be taller. How about adding 5-10 floors for apartments/condos or for a boutique hotel like a 21C or a W? This site definitely needs to have something atleast 15 stories tall. C'mon Cummins, be creative!!
          • What a Bad Deal
            Where to start?: - The city is ponying up way too much cash here for way too little development; - As someone else commented, this is a gross underdevelopment of the MSA site; - This merely adds to the office space glut in downtown Indy, which has one of the highest downtown office vacancy rates in the nation; - As another commenter mentioned, it merely sucks the life out of Columbus, yet for the foregoing reasons, won't really benefit Indy all that much. This is not "hating". This is merely summarizing the reality.
          • Indy Star details
            They Indy Star provides a little more detail at this point, with some residents from columbus moving or working in the Indy location. Also - it mentions this will be to the South of the new Market Tower. The Cummins HQ can't be too tall on the South side, or it will be blocking and exterior balconies on the south side of the Tower if it remains oriented as it is in the Sketches. That could be one reason for not building straight up as well. Maybe Exact Target will reach out to Cummins and also through in a $30M investment into this same location and co-locate to get a denser development perhaps?
          • Architectural Significance?
            I agree with other comments here that this will most likely be a small/modest building. For 400 workers, depending on office/conference needs it doesn't seem like they would need more than 100,000 sq. ft. Add in ground floor retail and a parking garage and you essentially have the size and massing of literally every development going on downtown (ie: The Artistry, The Axis, Pulliam Square). The only thing that might attract architectural significance on this project is the price tag. In the end it's better to have this than an empty lot, but it seems like a letdown for the site considering past schemes (and the other MSA tower across the street) that are far more grand. Hopefully we'll all be surprised by the proposed design.
          • Pay attention ...
            I love how people don't pay attention to the details and immediately rant. This building will house Cummins employees who already work downtown (in leased space) plus the Cummins distribution employees; Cummins is buying its vast and many distribution affiliates (like Crosspoint) and making them part of the corporate family. They're not relocating the headquarters. Also, re: the complaints about not having something more "significant," like a high-rise on the site: there will be a brand-new high-rise right next door, and a multi-story, architecturally-significant headquarters is nothing to sneeze about. Is the sky always falling?
          • Prime real estate
            Um, this proposal is ludicrous. The MSA site is prime real estate just three blocks from the Circle. 30+ story residential or office space would be much more appropriate here...unless Cummins is saying that a (likely) three-story building would actually have an impact on the cityscape, which would be pretty pathetic if that is what they're insinuating. Maybe that's the case in small town southern Indiana, but not in a major metropolitan area.
          • Missing the mark
            That Cummins is moving all those workers downtown is great, but this proposal is a gross underdevelopment of prime real estate. This sounds like it might be a 5 or 6 story building at best and house a single tenant. Is there any doubt that the same site available on the open market would have attracted a proposal that would do more with the site than something of this limited scale? What is going on with our city's planners?
          • Bigger is Better
            It would be nice if they could add a housing or hotel element into the complex to make it more significant. Maybe its time to try condos again on the site. It seems everything downtown is rental right now. Condos may work now that there is so much going on in that area. That could add another 10 to 15 stories, which could make it closer to the apartment highrise across Market St.
          • Net
            Haven't figured out what the property tax abatement is worth, but the numbers reported $(4.3M sale price less $3.3M city cost less abatement) make it seem like a pretty good deal for the city: new landmark bldg (we hope), 100 more jobs downtown (or at least planned jobs) and a more permanent presence by a major regional employer. But what about the current glut of office space downtown? That's hopefully a short-term problem that will resolve over time as more companies see the value of having a strong presence in downtown Indy. Not everyone is going to build a new monumental HQ, so vacancies should abate...slowly. Downtown is where it's at. Strong downtown hub, strong region. Let's hope this strategy keeps rolling long enough to pay off.
          • @Bob
            Maybe we should think 6 stories with plenty of green space, and quality retail that would pay for it's won build out, then the 30M makes much more sense. I would also imagine that yes, big time architects will take the reins make a serious urban design statement. Cummins is known for good design, good context, and good community interface when doing their development. This seems like a very good deal to me! Now if we can just get the IMPD out of the CCB, and get the Justice built!!!
          • building
            With the price and number of employees stated in the article, we are looking at a low rise, suburban sized development. This is unfortunate for a prime piece of downtown real estate. However, with Cummins' background, it should atleast be architecturally pleasing to the eye.
          • Not sure
            Is it just me or does 30 million not sound like very much--the 14 story Simon Headquarter building cost 67 million the 28 story building going in across the street is 87 million. It just doesn't sound like it is going to be a very "substantial" building or am I missing something?
          • For John F.
            So you do not trust them when they say they will be consolidating the location of current downtown workers, and retaining overall corporate HQ in Columbus? Maybe it is a great day after all.
          • architecture for Indy
            Yes, hopefully they'll hire a good, critical, architecture practice with international significance.
          • Maybe not such a great day
            This ought to suck the life out of one small town in Indiana. I don't see this as something to celebrate.
            • Awesome news
              This is awesome news for downtown. I hope the project is at least 15 stories, for such a prominent location. Also with a four acre site, it would be nice to see some room left for future expansion plans. It will be great to have Cummins in a visible building .
            • Irwin Miller Legacy
              Fantastic news for downtown. Even though there is plenty of vacant space they could move into, the commitment by Cummins to develop something with architectural significance is more encouraging. Really pleased to hear they are carrying forward the legacy of their founder and what he did for the city of Columbus by focusing on the importance of architecture; can't wait to see renderings of their new Distribution HQ.
              • Cue the Haters
                What a great deal for downtown. Cue the haters...

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              1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

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