City Market proposals: Microbrewery, bicycle hub, agriculture showcase

January 18, 2010
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Six groups are vying to lead a redevelopment effort for the struggling Indianapolis City Market. (Reporter Peter Schnitzler has all the details here.) Here's a summary of the possibilities:

  • The not-for-profit Riley Area Development Corp. has proposed a new Performing Arts Center and affordable housing complex for artists on the east and west wing sites. Riley’s proposal, which would include collaboration with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, also includes non-binding memorandums of understanding from 21 local arts organizations that expressed interest in the project.
  • Chicago-based real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle seeks to expand the scope of City Market’s redevelopment, proposing a larger-scale project that would include a five-level parking deck to the north, the vacant Market Square Arena site and the Old City Hall at 202 N. Alabama. Jones envisions a three- to five-year process exploring plans to create what it calls a “festival retail food destination” at City Market. The company also suggests adding national chain restaurants such as Olive Garden or Ram Brew Pub to the current mix of local vendors. It also would investigate refurbishing the City Market’s 20,000-square-foot basement catacombs as a restaurant and building a 200-room hotel with ballrooms and conference rooms on the MSA site.
  • Columbus, Ohio-based planning firm Kinzelman Kline Gossman proposes replacing the market’s wings with mixed-use “green” buildings and an outdoor performance venue, with a bike hub/shop, a "green” grocer, a microbrewery and wine bar. Kinzelman would tear down both wings. On the west side, it would build a three- to four-story building with a ground-floor retail or food anchor. On the east side, it proposes a public plaza with an 8,000-square-foot bicycle hub facility connected to the Cultural Trail.
  • St. Louis-based developer McCormack Baron Salazar points out in its RFI response that “a comprehensive development plan is not realistic at this point.” It broadly wants to build a “Best of Indiana” market and establish the Indiana Center for Sustainable Agriculture, with room for a “small, highly adaptable black-box theater and/or cabaret studio space.” It proposal aims for energy savings from new window and insulation technologies and solar energy systems.
  • Locally based architecture firm Rowland Design proposes a number of ideas for reusing the east and west Wings. Options include a public health facility in partnership with the IUPUI College of Public Health offering medical screenings and tests, a fitness center that transforms the historic central hall’s mezzanine into a year-round jogging track, a culinary school, and a pair of educational wellness centers focused on Indiana’s professional sports and Hoosier children.
  • Locally based Tabbert Hahn Ping Global Strategies proposed an entertainment venue with a connected restaurant or bar that would seat 1,500 and host four or five shows weekly.

Which would you pick?

  • Really?
    I really can't say that I like any of these. I truely believe that the City Market would thrive as a true City Market, selling goods like it once did, not just a bunch of hack places to eat. I find it amazing that it works in other places, but not here. If parking is an issue, then buy some of the old MSA land and build a parking garage, clean out the place and start over. Look at how popular the "Farmers Market" is, that is held right out front. This doesn't take a lot of insight to see that it is possible. As far as I am concerned, you can tear down the wings, they are a total waste of space, either replace them with something usable or make green space outside for people to enjoy.
  • hmmm
    The only one that I dislike is the second one. Which means it's probably the one that will be picked. Anything else is better than what is there. Number 3 is probably my favorite.
    Just turn it all into a Beergarten.
    • I like the beergarden idea. After visiting English Garden in Munich, and several others in Germany, it would be a cool idea. It may not hurt to wait to do anything until the economy picks up and some of these proposals can get their own financing.

      City market will not take off until the MSA property is developed.
    • Most of those suck!
      I am horrified by several of the suggestions - truly. Public health facility? Bike hub? I think those are perfectly awful ideas!! There are parts of a few that are decent, such as a parking garage and a basement restaurant, but overall I hate those ideas!

      The City Market should remain a market. The biggest problem with the Market is that they do little to no advertising of it. How many ads have you seen anywhere downtown where conventioners or tourists are out walking around that tout The City Market? I know when I'm in a different city, I seek out the local flavor if I know where to go. I made a point of visiting the Reading Terminal Market in Philly because I saw it advertised, which is an example of what our market should be. Also, how about a free or cheap trolley of some kind to ferry people over there from near the convention center. It can be a cold walk in the winter from further areas of downtown. There is no parking, so why not offer public transportation?

      I would hate to see any of those "expert" suggestions listed above come to fruition. Don't let City Market die!
    • RE: Most of those suck!
      I agree with Firewoman1220!
    • Brewery
      How about Sun King moves their facilities into the City Market and adds a restaurant/tour to the mix?

      Please do NOT put an Olive Garden in there, it will fail and we'll have to start all over.
    • Number 1
      This city has been lacking a Performing Arts Center, and it would be a great venue for many arts organizations that have no permanent home. The city hasn't been able to make the market concept viable (other than the farmer's market in the summer, which should remain as part of any redev plan), so why not use the space to continue to boost one of our city's greatest assets: its burgeoning arts culture!
    • Firewoman et al.,

      You do realize that the City Market will remain just that, a City Market. The proposals are for the modern east and west wings which have no historical significance and have overall probably hurt the market by letting it spread out too much.
      • Not Really True
        Indyman, Several of the proposals above are changing the City Market into something other than a "City Market", please reread the article more closely.
      • Market
        My understanding is that the City Market will remain a City Market and the Riley proposal will bring an additional 278,000 people annually into the City Market as the entrance to the Performing Art Center. The number of vendors will increase (and the quality of vendors will increase) once the crowds arrive. I am in favor of a project that attracts people to the City Market...crowds attract crowds and create a vibe...which is what you experience at the other markets in major Cities as the venues become tourist attractions. The old model was to try and attract vendors and wait and see if the crowds show up. Now you have a group applying a model that will attract the crowds to the City Market with the hope that more vendors and great vendors will show up. I choose the model of attracting crowds first as the best alternative. Once you attract the crowds...the vendors and market will thrive....
      • Long Time,

        Read the Peter Schnitzler article that is linked. Here is the opening sentence and I think it clears up any confusion.

        "Six business groups are vying for Mayor Greg Ballards approval to redevelop the antiquated wings of the historic Indianapolis City Market. "

        They are not affecting the Central building which is the historic Market building.
        • I see what you're saying...
          Indyman, I see what you're saying but any of these proposals will have an impact on the central hall - what about the public health option one? An indoor jogging track in the central mezzanine? I re-read the proposals and I agree with you that the wings have probably had a negative impact on the central hall. If we're only talking about the wings here, then I say the public health option one is the worst idea. I think you want people there for something fun - like the arts. Not health screenings. It seems like an odd match for a market. I would also say we do lack density in that area and maybe housing of some kind on one wing would also bring more people to the site. I think the big key here is developing the old MSA site. As long as that's a gravel lot, then the Market will suffer.
        • Not Bad
          I do like the idea of having housing attached to this...which if and when MSA ever gets developed would have accomplished the same thing...however, I cannot figure out why our Market does not work, especially in an agriculture state like Indiana? I mean, Cincy's is a smash and its located in teh Hood!
        • Market
          Findlay Market and City Market are completely different animals. Theirs is fun and full of life - ours isn't set amidst the "neighborhood" vibe. There are similar ones elsewhere, even little Ann Arbor. They're much looser and funner.

          Winter market works. Outdoor summer market works. The various markets in parking lots and parks work. People don't like the atmosphere. You're surrounded by crappy lunch places.

          And people love that area. People love all of over the rhine. Its not chuck full of cookie cutter, cheesy, four-story new urbanist boredom like MSA is.
        • Reading Terminal
          Reading Terminal works as a public market because it's attached to the commuter rail hub of Philadelphia...and has been for 100 years.

          There isn't a public-market tradition in Indianapolis or Indiana, and we can't just create one out of thin air.
        • Parking
          There's a huge multi-story parking garage just to the north of the City Market on Ohio Street. I can't be convinced that we need another one.

          It's frustrating that people often think that parking in downtown Indy is tough, when in fact it's always possible-it's just that they want it for free, preferably less than 100 feet from their destination. In other words, they don't want a downtown at all.
        • Disagree
          I would disagree that there isn't a public market tradition in Indiana or the city. Reading is a nice market, but the two cities aren't very comparable, except that the area around Reading is also fairly dull (IMO).

          Does it matter that the market is enclosed in:

          Two wings of stinky, greasy, obesity shops
          A sea of gravel
          Rather dull office buildings

          Not commenting on any individual proposal, I do believe that adding some other offerings that those above into the mix may increase the overall appeal of the spot.
        • New management?
          We had a great discussion with this on my blog a few months ago. I remain convinced that even putting a 50-story residential tower on the MSA site still will not help the City Market one bit, given its current management structure.

          Indianapolis did have a public market tradition--the City Market is one of the oldest standing buildings of its kind--but it devolved as the downtown lost its pre-eminence as a central shopping destination. It's been nothing more than a spread-out food court for decades and the ridiculous amount of seating encourages a food court ambiance. Good food vendors (like Goose the Market) rejected the place because it lacks vibrance; others (like Moody Meats) gave up on it; still others (like Constantino's) couldn't reach a suitable leasing agreement.

          Something about the way the space is organized these days makes it consistently unappealing to both vendors and customers. Downtown already has plenty of fast-food places and food courts where, quite frankly, the atmosphere appears brighter and better maintained.

          But I agree with LongTimeIndyRes: the central hall should remain a market.
        • Parking.
          Kevin, while the article is a bit ambiguous on the point, I think "five level parking deck to the north" refers to the existing parking garage between the Market Square Center office buildings. I think the Jones Lang LaSalle project incorporates that garage into the redevelopment in some way. It took a few reads, but I don't think they are proposing a new five-level garage.
        • Don't forget the very popular Farmers Market that operated on South Street in the 70's and earlier. Very popular until Lilly's bought it and tore it down for parking.

          City Market needs to decide what it is and stick to it. I mean how many thousands of people work within 2 blocks of it? How many thousands live within 6 blocks of it? It just needs to come up with a vision and stick to it.
        • City Market
          Here is a link to a good article on one of the proposals;

        • Bike Hub
          I have to say, adding a bike hub would be awfully cool. Indianapolis has been making some good inroads towards being a more bicycle-friendly city.
        • Not enough
          Too few people live close enough for this to be a viable market.

          And Indyman...the 70's are ancient history, even for an aging boomer like me: there is no current and uninterrupted tradition (or even one that can be resurrected).

          Look, folks, the economic geography of this decade is way different. We can all rant and rave about how the car has destroyed our formerly-dense downtown, but the fact is...that had already happened by the 70's.

          American Dirt recently did a long blog piece on Trader's Point Creamery. What it boils down to is that it has a very specific is not trying to be everything to everyone. I don't think that vibe can be recaptured in City Market solely as a marketplace.

          I think that it would be a vibrant civic asset if it had something close to 24/7 usage, and a mix of performing arts, physical fitness, market, and dining is probably the way to make it a place with a experience not to be missed.

        • Life Hub
          I'd like to see it remain a market with complimentary useage. A grocer, a farmer's market, a good meat market, baker, complimented with the likes of a Culinary School, a Winery or Microbrewery, and a transportation hub.
        • Proposed Indianapolis Performing Arts Center!
          Here is another article about the Indianapolis City Market Proposal,

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