The Washington Street corridor just east of downtown has taken its fair share of abuse over the years. As the city spread outward, it was one of the many areas that suffered disinvestment. But in a sign that Washington Street’s decades-long losing streak might finally be over, Angie’s List announced Aug. 16 it will stay there and add facilities and jobs.
The company, which provides customer-review services in more than 200 markets, moved to 1030 E. Washington St. 11 years ago and has slowly cobbled together a campus of 13 renovated buildings that house 650 employees.
As IBJ reported in early June, the company was considering pulling up stakes and moving to Fishers or another location as it evaluated the most cost-effective way to expand.
Instead, it will stay put, hoping to add 500 employees by 2015. And Angie’s List and an affiliate company plan to spend up to $5 million buying and renovating buildings in the neighborhood to house new and existing staff.
The city will tap money from tax-increment-financing districts to provide $4.6 million of that total. It will spend another $1.5 million on infrastructure in the neighborhood and direct $1 million in federal tax credits to the company.
Government watchdogs might not like the use of TIF money to help Angie’s List expand, but they can’t claim the money is going to another glitzy downtown project. Angie’s List is close to downtown’s core, but the neighborhood the company has supported couldn’t be more different.
Angie’s List has almost single-handedly revitalized its stretch of Washington Street and Market Street to the north. It’s worth the city’s investment to make sure the company continues to be a positive force for change there.
Keep Georgia Street on Indianapolis’ map
Georgia Street is 190 years old this year—almost as old as Indianapolis itself. The city’s branding experts should think long and hard before throwing away so much history, which is what they’re considering doing.
As IBJ reported last month, a committee of community and business leaders is casting about for a new name for the three-block stretch of Georgia Street between the Indiana Convention Center and Conseco Fieldhouse. The renaming effort coincides with the $12 million transformation of the street into an outdoor event space complete with dining kiosks, bike racks and overhead canopies.
We understand the temptation to come up with a catchy name for this new city asset, but we’re not convinced it’s a good idea.
In their book “Authenticity—What Consumers Really Want,” authors James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II advise businesses to steer clear of that which is contrived. “People increasingly see the world in terms of real and fake, and want to buy something real from someone genuine.”
The name Georgia Street is authentic. Indianapolis should celebrate its history, not run from it. Chicago’s Michigan Avenue is uniquely Chicago. Georgia Street, with its new assets, can—if given time—become positively and uniquely connected with Indianapolis.•
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