Part of City Market renovation project put on hold

City planners have scaled back renovation plans at the Indianapolis City Market to meet their budget, but they hope to find more money down the road.

A portion of the $2.7 million renovation has been put on hold because bids for the project came in too high, city officials said Wednesday.

City leaders likely will wait until next year—if they can find more money—to demolish the building’s west wing. The demolition is a key component of a makeover designed to help rejuvenate the financially struggling downtown venue.

The handful of food vendors in that wing still will move into the market’s main hall, said Jim Reilly, the facility’s executive director. He hopes the city will find additional money to tear down the wing—or find someone to occupy it—by the time the other renovations are completed in late spring or early summer. But, so far, it’s unclear whether that will happen.

Other changes, including new lighting, restrooms and vendor stands, are expected to get underway by Dec. 1 in the market's main hall, said Wendy Cooper, a senior project manager with the Department of Metropolitan Development. On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Development Commission awarded a $2.2 million contract to Fishers-based Terstep Co. Inc. for those services.

The project also includes $500,000 for engineering and architectural services on the main hall renovations.

Bids for the main hall came in about $700,000 over the $2.7 million estimate. The city considered putting the project out for bid again when the proposals came in above budget, but officials determined soliciting new bids wouldn’t produce enough savings. In addition to putting off the west wing demolition, the city will forgo installing tile on the market's second floor and adding a basement freezer. 

City officials say those amendments aren't expected to hurt the overall project.

“We could still revitalize the City Market without demolishing the west wing,” said Molly Deuberry, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works. “But let’s get the building done so we can have the kind of revival that everybody wants.”

John Cochran, Mayor Greg Ballard’s special counsel, who has worked on the project, said the city hopes to find money for the demolition within the next year, but has not yet determined how to pay for it. Once the vendors from that wing move into the main hall, the area will sit vacant.

While Reilly is eager to see change in the west wing, he said delaying the demolition is a better option than putting off the entire renovation.

“It’s more important we get renovations started on the inside as quickly as possible,” Reilly said, noting the new vendors and bar opening at the market this month. “It’s going to be a period of a lot of activity out here.”

Another $800,000 has been set aside for a separate project to turn the market’s east wing into a bicycle hub.

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