IndyGo unveils design of $20M downtown transit center

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IndyGo unveiled Thursday the design of its sleek, $20 million transit hub set to be built on a half-block surface parking lot in the heart of downtown.

Plans for the hub have been in the works for a few years. Currently, 27 of IndyGo’s routes have downtown components, and it’s likely that most, if not all, would intersect with the hub, according to IndyGo. Passengers would use the center for transfers.

transit center rendering 15colCity officials hope the sleek structure will help spiff up a neglected portion of the Mile Square. (Image courtesy IndyGo)

City officials hope the transit hub will serve as a signature structure that could trigger further development in the area.

IndyGo’s release of the architectural renderings coincides with Mayor Greg Ballard’s State of the City address Thursday evening, in which he mentioned the hub.

“This sleek building will not only transform an empty parking lot, but also serve as the hub for transit,” Ballard said in his speech. “Just imagine people waiting inside for a bus connection with coffee and a newspaper, rather than huddled outside on Ohio Street.”

Work is expected to begin in the fall; completion is expected by the end of 2015.

A federal grant will cover $13.5 million of the cost, with the city picking up the rest of the tab.

The 14,000-square-foot building will be constructed on a 1.9-acre parcel owned by the city and situated on the south side of Washington Street between Delaware and Alabama streets. It's directly across Washington Street from the City-County Building.

The hub will have 19 bus bays at the rear, closest to the Marion County Jail.

transit center rendering overhead 15colThe transit hub will include 19 bus bays to the rear of the 1.9-acre parcel. (Image courtesy IndyGo)

The project will help spiff up a section of downtown already in the midst of a renaissance. Immediately to the northeast, a portion of the former Market Square Arena site is available for development and is among the sites that Cummins Inc. is seriously considering to construct a downtown building for its Indianapolis employees.

To the north of that site, Flaherty & Collins Properties is set to begin construction this year on an $81 million, 28-story residential high-rise.

“Simply put, Indy needs to raise its game,” Ballard said in his address. “We need more signature structures that define our skyline. The new, curved MSA tower is modern and inspiring.  The new Mass Ave development contains a digital art screen that will draw people’s attention. IndyGo’s new Downtown Transit Center definitely fits that mold.”

IndyGo will be displaying the design starting Friday at the old Indianapolis City Hall.

The architects on the project are San Francisco-based URS Corp. and locally based Axis Architecture + Interiors.


  • FINALLY!!!
    It is about time that we stepped up our game and had the mass transit system that will start to reflect the size of our large and repidly growing city.. Our city officials dont realize how much this will be utilized by the people in our communities
  • frederi75
  • very nice...
    This is a great start to better mass transit.
    I can't wait to sleep here. And with free wifi, I may never leave. Thanks Mayor B!
  • Smart-market Thinking in an Emerging Market
    I suppose Indy (like other cities) can't afford the luxury of waiting til it emerges as a more significant market to upgrade some of its necessary facilities, but it would seem that a measure of strategic thinking about the longer-term impact of small-town facilities at critical locations would serve the city well. An example is the unfortunate crowding of Victory Field into the Northeast corner of its site rather than placing it out further to the Southwest with expansion in mind for possible MLB (Altho Max S. may just be crazy like a fox). With some exceptions, I think the transit station is a decent design, but feels as tho it'd be a better fit for Fort Wayne or Omaha. This structure, Like 'The Vic' will be too significant to think of as temporary, yet too limiting in its long-term usefulness as the city grows. Another unfortunate example of expediant small town thinking by those prone to labeling every mediocre new facility here as "World-class". Ugghh!
  • Take Your Complaint to The General Assembly
    Nick, Mayor Ballard is certainly not lobbying for a mass transit bill that excludes rail. That specific exclusion can be laid squarely on the anti-everything kooks in the General Assembly who are opposed to any mass transit funding, even through local taxes approved by a public vote. These legistlators have purposefully put "poison pill" amendments (like the no rail provision) in the mass transit bill to try to kill it. Also, like Andrew, you seem to be mixing up a lot of issues. The bus transit center has been planned for several years, long before there was any mass transit bills pending in the General Assembly. The transit center is fully funded, mainly through federal grants, and it will get built, whether or not the mass transit bill ever gets passed.
  • Transit is Necessary. Roads Do NOT Pay for Themselves
    Andrew, First, you again offer the completely false statement that roads are fully funded and paid for by user fees. The full cost of roads is NOT covered by the gas tax, property taxes and other revenue sources are used to pay for roads, in particular local roads. So, stop claiming that roads pay for themselves through "user fees." Second, while a light rail may not be a necessity, SOME form of viable public transit is a necessity. There is a whole class of individuals who need to get to work, but who cannot afford a car. There is also the cost/benefit analsysis that needs to be considered with having to add more and more roads and tear up neighborhoods to widen them as traffic gets worse and worse compared to having some people who could drive instead use public transit. If having crummy public transit was not an issue, then area businesses would not have been clamoring for years for improved public transit--good public transit is necessary for long-term positive economic development. Also, this transit center is a bus shelter, so your tirade against light rail is irrelevant. Public transit is just as much of a necessity as roads or any other public infrastructure. Finally, what do cricket field (located miles away from downtown) and a (unbuilt) soccer stadium have to do with a bus transit station? Answer: Nothing. You are conflating a whole bunch of unrelated issues and not making a cogent argument.
  • Bring on the transit investment
    It's great to see this long awaited project move forward. I have a car but ride the bus often. I'm a happier person when someone else is navigating the traffic and love the extra steps it adds to my day walking to and from the stops. We all need to move more, and this transit hub will help.
  • The good old days.
    I think the concept is growing on me, I can see a White Castle kiosk inside.
  • To "Truthteller"
    I have a car and I ride the bus to my job, which I worked hard to get. Many people I ride with do the same. Your archaic notion of the truth is laughable, as is hiding behind a lame moniker. Furthermore, the Ohio stops will remain. So, I am pleased to say that you'll still have to interact with the nice folks who use the bus, whom you'd never address personally with the concerns you've wasted our time with here.
  • Still No Rail
    Ballard is lobbying for a local mass transit referendum to raise 1.2 billion with no rail. none. Specifically excluded. Will never be permitted. Only buses. They can try and church it up all they want, but its a bus stop. Mass transit works where it does because its an alternative that beats the status quo. Until their is light rail flying by cars and stopping them on Keystone and elsewhere so that commuters can literally see the benefit, all you will have is a billion dollar Indygo with a ridiculously expensive bus stop next to the county jail. I want to take pride in my city. I really do. But, specifically excluding progress and pumping unbelievable large amounts of money into a bus plan is not new and certainly does not give me pride for my city. Be bold, think big, be creative. A 20 million dollar bus stop does not do it for me. Should the legislature allow a referendum on mass transit that specifically excludes rail, please vote no.
    • Moved Away
      I moved away, but looking at this gem, I am very sorry I did. I simply cannot imagine the sheer joy of having such a marvelous facility in my city. Now, when mass transit (notice I didn't say light rail... still excluded, right?) expands, there will be a world-class transit facility for it all to come together. It was tough leaving such a wonderful, progressive city, where politicians do everything in their power to stop the population from having a vote on transit, yet think that basic civil liberties are perfectly fine for the masses to vote on. I have to say I've had my criticisms of Indy in the past, but this? This is just... stupendous. I mean, look at that place! Wow.
    • TruthTeller
      I see TruthTeller's comment was removed, either by the writer or the editor. Regardless, if that is even a minority sentiment here in our town, I am embarrassed for us.
    • @kent
      Uh oh, Greg! They're onto us!
    • where's the cost?
      Hard to tell without a site plan, but where is the $20M being spent? Looks like pavement, rain gardens, open air roofed shelters, and a small building with coffee shop and rest rooms. It doesn't seem to look like $20M worth of development?
      • Bus Rider
        I've been a lawyer 30 years. I work and live downtown. I've never been arrested, never smoked and rarely drink other than the occasional martini before dinner. I ride the bus on occasion - sometimes because my car is down, sometimes because it's better for the environment and sometimes in the summer when I just feel like getting extra exercise walking to and from the bus stops. Imagine my surprise to see myself depicted as a criminal and a loser who stands around the bus stop smoking and drinking (assuming that is what a 40 oz Olde English is. I don't even know). I couldn't see the pic well enough to comment on the design one way or the other. But I do think it would be nice to have a place to sit with my Starbucks and read while waiting for the bus rather than being packed into a tiny cubicle like sardines or standing in the rain.
      • TruthTeller
        The comment by TruthTeller sickened me. If you really feel that way about your fellow men and women who choose to use the mass transit system, I feel truly sorry for you. You should really reconsider the direction you are headed in life.
        • Re: John
          Did you not read the last sentence John? It says it was a collaboration with a SF firm and "local" firm Axis. We all know the city is taking heat on design, so they pay some light consulting fee to a SF firm while 90% of the design was local. Learn how our city operates. This design looks local and smells local.
        • Ah, the old roads & streets argument
          Roads: necessity (and funded through user fees) Police: necessity (although they are consistently abusing their power) Schools: necessity Light rail trains that run the same speed as buses but cost millions more in new ROW & infrastructure: luxury Minor-league soccer stadium: luxury Cricket field: luxury Every time I see the words "world-class city," I hear "taxpayers need to open up their wallets to fund MY *wants* (not needs)." Indy IS a world-class city, a transportation and convention hub of the Midwest. The presence or absence of transit systems that run on steel rails instead of rubber tires, or of cricket fields, or of minor-league soccer stadia do not make it any more or less of one. Taxpayers don't need to be subsidizing private businesses (or Ballard's cronies), and they don't need to be subsidizing *wants*. A wise former president stated that any spending beyond the *public necessity* is a form of legalized larceny. Taxes need to pay for basics - police, fire protection, streets, schools - and let the private sector fund the luxuries. If there's a market for them, the investment dollars will come.
          • Local eh?
            I'm sorry, but let's ease up on the congratulatory "local" praise, last I checked the project lead was URS, an international engineering firm based out of San Francisco. Removing Daniel Libeskind from the project was an unfortunate loss for our city. Ballard is right, we need to raise the bar in this town.
          • re: Todd
            Todd, if you are not a local architect yourself, then you do not understand the climate of business that we have to deal with in Indianapolis. It's not that the architects are clueless, it's that we in Indianapolis simply don't get the see the design and construction budgets that you would get in other large world class cities. You can't build the Taj Mahal with pennies. If you want world class design, you need to attract businesses willing to pay for that.
          • Laughable
            Only a "local" architect or someone from Axis, would get on this board and defend Indy architecture. That is really funny! We need outside design firms, Indy based firms are clueless.
          • This reminds me.
            Everyone has to visit license branch to get some form of I.D. or to renew. Now take that experience x 2 x 365 and you'll soon know why.
          • Daniel Libeskind?
            The design team of Daniel Libeskind and Arup was originally selected but told the City that the cost of their project vision would be $30 million when the established budget was only $20 million. Needless to say, an agreement could not be reached which is often the case with "starchitects" unless you are willing to just pay them blindly for a name and a design that looks no different than their usual project. I applaud Indy for using local firms and national firms with a strong local presence. We need to stop sending out all of the large design projects and big fees to national firms poaching from the local design community.
          • Time for the Truth
            Should the U.S. military pay for itself? Should the roads you drive on pay for themselves? (Hint, the gas tax does NOT cover the full cost of roads, especially local roads). Should public schools pay for themselves? Should food safety inspectors pay for themselves? Should the telecommunications/Internet infrastructure you use that was subsidized by the U.S. government pay for itself. Andrew, there are plenty of services and protections YOU personally benefit from that do not pay for themselves. They are paid for by taxes we all pay. If you want to only have to make voluntary outlays, you are welcome to renounce your citzenship, move out of this country, and find a deserted island and support yourself entirely on your own without any of the benefits you currently enjoy. Not willing to do that? Then, stop complaining and pushing the phony argument that everything must pay for itself.
          • Looks great
            Looks great and kudos to IndyGo for hiring a local architecture firm in Axis.
          • Scary people?
            I am neither scary nor a criminal. I work for a consulting firm, and I have an office that looks over the Circle. I live downtown, and I choose not to pay exorbitant prices for parking. I have never seen something more ignorant from a "Truthteller." The problem with Indianapolis is this stigma about public transportation. People would rather live in Carmel and drive (not to mention complain about it). Those are the people destroying the environment. These are the people not allowing Indy to be a world class city. Even Dayton has a transit hub like this, and I appreciate the mayor making this move.
          • Where's the train?
            I see no mention of a train or streetcar. Why is Indy still stuck in the dark ages? We were talking about real rail transit nearly 20 years ago when I first started working in Indy.
          • TYPO?
            “Just imagine people waiting inside for a bus connection with coffee and a newspaper..." Greg, did you mean to say "with a cigarette and a 40oz Olde English" ???
          • Good Question
            Good question Maria, what did happen to that world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind? Would have been nice to see what the winning design team might have produced...
          • Mixed feelings
            Only losers and criminals ride the bus (and most forms of mass transit), so I don't like to see money spent to expand it. However, I'll be pleased to see these scary people removed from the front steps of my Chase Tower office.
            • Priorities
              I can't believe we're spending $20 million on a bus station. Waste of money.
            • A List
              Here's a list of some local things that don't entirely pay for themselves that the taxpayer does: Streets, curbs, sidewalks, streetlights, parks, libraries, schools, fire protection, police, government owned buildings, jails, tourist bureau, street signs, health inspectors, gas pump inspectors, zoning board... While the soccer stadium seems much riskier than the multi sport cricket field, it is amazing that people don't "get" the need for mass transit. Taxpayers subsidize the use of every car being used through infrastructure. We have to limit the amount of new industry because we sometimes exceed exhaust emission limits. I'm not a mass transit nut. But good, inexpensive, reliable bus/light rail service it is a basic service in a good city.
            • Max?
              Things need to pay for themselves because WE HAVE NO CHOICE IN BEING FORCED TO PAY FOR THEM. An $87 million soccer stadium for a minor-league team that has never played a game (when there are *2* more-than-adequate stadia in Marion County for the team and level of play) does not make life better. It enhances one person's wallet at the rest of our expense. We still have sports - the Eleven will still play at IUPUI, which is a perfecty fine stadium for a team at that level of play. We'll have 2 hockey teams next year, one of which plays at a high level (the USHL Ice) in a league that routinely sends elite players to the NHL (which the ECHL doesn't) and doesn't get a CENT of taxpayer money (instead, it got thrown out of the taxpayer-funded facility it paid heavy rents to a couple of years ago). The Triple-A baseball Indians paid the majority of the cost for their $15 million stadium and it has more than paid for itself. Those teams only improve the quality of life for the people who go to their games. For the Eleven or the Indians, even a capacity crowd is 1% of the metro-area population. And most games don't draw capacity crowds. Cricket? How the heck is a $6 million taxpayer-funded cricket field going to enhance anyone's quality of life? Very few folks in Indy play cricket, and a similar number watches it. Thankfully, I don't live in Marion County, so it won't lighten my wallet. And it has been proven time and time again that light rail and streetcars are very costly and provide very little marginal benefit. Buses/BRT run at virtually the same speeds as light rail, run on existing rights-of-way, and therefore could provide a similar "improvement to the quality of life" at a significantly lower cost to the taxpayers being forced to subsidize them than rails. And again, even in transit meccas like Portland and Chicago, the number of people in a community who use transit is miniscule - less than 10%. A more robust bus system would be significantly better, more flexible and cheaper than spending millions on new infrastructure for something hardly anyone will use.
              • Come on!
                Gary, why must everything "pay for" itself? Why can't we build things because they make life better for citizens? Not everything is dollars and cents, except to those selfish people who love only money and not the community or their neighbors.
              • Good location
                The downtown transit hub needed to be located in a place that the city already owned and that would provide the most benefit. Its proposed location is perfect because it is near essential government services, not particularly far from other downtown amenities, and is proximate to the empty lots the city is trying to encourage development upon.
              • Future Phase
                Are there plans to add streetcars, light rail, or other trains in future phases?
              • Huh?
                I thought this was supposed to be designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind? What happened? Is there someplace where we can access better quality renderings? From what I can see in the article, the design is disappointing, but that's to generally be expected from Axis and other Indy based firms.
                • So is the transport hub for the county jail
                  Question is the hub for the county jail population and families. Who would want to take bus transportation to downtown and get off near the county jail. I suppose it is only because the city owns the property. Why not put it near the baseball field and football stadium. Seems an unlikely location. Another hairbrained idea like a cricket field and a soccer stadium that will never pay for themselves
                • Cool bus stop dude
                  20m on a bus stop. Build a school.

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                4. The question is, where could they build a new stadium? It seems in the past year, all the prime spots have been spoken for with potential projects. Maybe in the industrial wasteland area a block past Lucas Oil? I think it needs to be close to the core, if a new stadium is built.

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