Fishers seeking to reinvent itself with redevelopment

September 23, 2013
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Fast-growing Fishers is embarking on an ambitious redevelopment plan leaders hope will create a vibrant, walkable downtown.

Site work on the first phase, a $42 million residential and retail development dubbed The Depot at Nickel Plate, has begun—the groundbreaking ceremony is set for Oct. 10—and officials are toiling behind the scenes on part two: a mixed-use replacement for the Fishers Train Station. (Read my full story from this week’s IBJ here.)

But there’s more to transforming Fishers than bricks and mortar. It’s just as important for the soon-to-be-city to fill the new buildings with the businesses and residents who bring a community to life.

Fishers’ strategy is to focus on building an environment attracts entrepreneurs, starting with town-backed Launch Fishers, a 13,000-square-foot coworking space located in the municipal complex. In less than a year of operation, the operation has attracted 275 members representing 75 companies—many of them startups.

Now Launch’s first members are “graduating” to more traditional digs, and the Fishers Redevelopment Commission is poised to help.

If a pair of economic development deals are approved by Town Council, mobile app developer Bluebridge Digital would pay a reduced rate to sublease offices from BLASTmedia, and the digital marketing firm would put up with tight quarters for a couple years before moving to an office building planned for the train station site.

The agreements would keep two high-potential businesses in Fishers, and economic development officials say they’re talking with other companies interested in planting their roots north of 96th Street.

Insiders also are working on plans for what’s informally being called “Launch 2.0,” an effort to develop office space for Launch Fishers members who have outgrown coworking but aren’t ready for a long-term lease.

What’s your take on Fishers’ redevelopment strategy? If officials build the downtown of their dreams, will businesses come?

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