Plans progress for once-doomed City Market west wing

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Once slated for demolition, the Indianapolis City Market’s west wing could have new tenants as soon as early next year.

Directors of the historic downtown building on Thursday approved a proposal by the local office of the New York-based Local Initiatives Support Corp., a not-for-profit, to lease space in the wing.

Other tenants would include the Indiana and Indianapolis chapters of the American Institute of Architects, as well as the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development.

But the most high-profile occupant could become the Indy Winter Farmers Market, which now leases space at The Maxwell apartment building on East Ohio Street. With more than 60 approved vendors, the market is open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays from November through April.

“If we can get the Winter Farmers Market based there, that way we could have a year-round farmers market,” City Market Executive Director Jim Reilly said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The City Market operates a summer farners market on Market Street outside the building on Wednesdays from May through October.

Plans approved last year called for demolishing the west wing, but the project was put on hold when bids for the overall renovation of City Market, set to be finished in September, came in over budget. The west wing was added to the 125-year-old main building in the 1970s.

The overall $3.5 million renovation project that began last year is adding new lighting, restrooms and vendor stands in the main hall and converting the market’s east wing into a YMCA facility where bicyclists can store bikes and shower.

The bike hub, which will include a bike shop operated by Bicycle Garage Indy, should open next month. The YMCA would follow in September.

Costs for the overall renovation of City Market are expected to come in about $300,000 under budget. Money originally earmarked to help pay for demolition of the west wing instead could be used to refurbish it.

The city would need to release the money before renovations could begin.

“There still needs to be final approval on the renovation funding, so that’s still in the works,” LISC Executive Director Bill Taft said. “But it’s great to have the City Market’s approval on our proposal.”

Paula Freund, spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Ballard, said a decision from the city likely would come by fall.

“We certainly don’t want to slow down the momentum [from the market renovations],” she said.

The Winter Farmers Market could occupy space in the west wing by October, in time for its seasonal opening. Because it’s only open on Saturdays, the market could operate during the renovation. Other tenants would move in early next year, Taft said.

“It’s in keeping with the incubator atmosphere, especially the Farmers Market, that this group supports,” said Wayne Schmidt, the City Market board's president. “We think it will attract more people to that part of downtown.”

The plan is to create a community design center and put together groups that support neighborhood development, Taft said.

Leases are up for both LISC and the AIA chapters, which now are housed at 333 N. Pennsylvania St. and 50 S. Meridian St., respectively.


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