Ahead of construction-related closure, City Market waives two months of rent for vendors

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Vendors are facing uncertainty as the City Market prepares to close for a block-wide redevelopment. Some say their business was already affected by a project to reconstruct Market Street south of the market. (IBJ file photo)

The remaining vendors at the historic Indianapolis City Market won’t have to pay rent prior to a March closure for a $200 million redevelopment of the entire block the structure sits on, the city announced Thursday.

The Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development and The Indianapolis City Market Corp. said in a news release that they will waive the monthly rent costs for 15 vendors in advance of a closure that has created substantial uncertainty for the business owners.

Hogsett administration officials have not yet released an ending date for the closure and have not committed to mitigation measures for the vendors. The city’s statement said that officials with DMD and City Market Corp. will continue to meet with the vendors “to understand each of their respective needs as small business owners.”

The struggling market has only enough vendors to fill just half of it’s 28 stalls, and these vendors have been placed on month-to-month leases in advance of the redevelopment.

The market, which Indy DMD dubbed “Market House” in Thursday’s news release, is part of the City Market East project, a joint venture between Citimark and Gershman Partners. The project includes the reskinning and redevelopment of the iconic 20-story Gold Building into 350 apartments as well as the construction of an 11-story, 60-unit apartment tower to replace the City Market’s east wing, updates to an office building at the southwest corner of Ohio and Alabama streets and an expansion of the market itself.

A rendering of the City Market East project. (Courtesy of Citimark and Gershman Partners)

City officials have said it will become the densest residential block in downtown Indianapolis, a fact they hope will mean more business for the market that emerges after the project.

But for at least one City Market business owner, the future remains hazy. Jose Castro, owner of Lunchtime at Castro’s, told IBJ with his daughter acting as a translator that the city’s plan to waive January and February rent will provide some cushion but does not guarantee that the restaurant will be able to remain at the market long term.

“The remodel just kind of hit them out of nowhere,” Alex Castro told IBJ, speaking on behalf of her father.”For some people who have been there for a while like he has, you know, it’s kind of like uprooting your business.”

The money saved from the waived rent will help vendors to save up for a new location, she said.

Her father, Castro added, would like to come back to the City Market. “But,” she said, “they don’t know how long the construction will be.” She pointed to the reconstruction of Market Street as a lengthy construction project that had a big impact on the food stall.

As part of the Citmark/Gershman redevelopment, the city has committed $12 million from its Circle City Forward fund and $5 million in tax-increment financing for renovating the City Market, the Wabash Street pedestrian alley and the adjacent plaza. Circle City Forward is a $190 million infrastructure and community revitalization program Mayor Joe Hogsett unveiled in 2021.

The City-County Council has approved $18.8 million in developer-backed tax-increment financing bonds for the entire $200 million block redevelopment.

The city has already announced that Tomlinson Tap, a current market vendor and a subsidiary of the City Market Corp., will serve as an anchor of the revamped market. The taphouse currently occupies the entire second floor of the market.

The city is also searching for a private manager for the market, which is currently operated by the not-for-profit City Market Corp. The private partner would have oversight of the revamped City Market’s operations, including its vendors, finances, security and overall management, according to the city’s news release. That would allow the not-for-profit to “prioritize its mission to support local food entrepreneurship through fundraising, events and programming, including the Original Farmers’ Market,” which is a traditional farmers markets that operates on Wednesdays during the summer, the release stated.

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15 thoughts on “Ahead of construction-related closure, City Market waives two months of rent for vendors

    1. We built it in the 70’s and it flourished until Union Station opened in the 80’s. Its died several times since then. Hopefully this time it will last another 25 or more years.

    2. Have you been there lately? The market is already dead, which is why the City is trying to revitalize it.

  1. The best thing the City is doing for City Market is repopulating the City-County tower. A “win” for both the City and the Market! Kudos to they who came up with the idea, and for the Mayor/Council in supporting it 👏

    1. Yes, but the market will be shuttered for an indefinite period. I wonder how many of the existing vendors will be around when it rises from the ashes.

    2. I didn’t see anything in the article about repopulating the City-County building, although that has been discussed elsewhere. However, if just the plans for the Gold Building and the other new apartments result in full occupancies of potential customers, a revamped City Market could reopen in an excellent position for success.

    3. No do the same for owners/tenants in Broad Ripple Boss Hogsett!

      Damage incurred due to incessant and poorly planned construction.

    4. LOL! If you look at the prices of food at the City Market and the salaries of most City-County employees, you’ll understand why most of them pack their lunches. The “repopulating the City-County tower” isn’t the economic boon to the Market you think.

  2. Well that just sucks for the vendors and their employees. Waiving 2 month rent is not making payroll, it’s not paychecks.
    To be transparent, decision makers need to just tell all the vendors they are done so they can all find alternative to continue having money to pay bills.

    1. Broad Ripple has been a traffic disaster for 30 years.

      It’s suboptimal to have two projects back to back but a lot of places in Marion County would love to have some road work done. And, the timing of the second project is out of the city’s hand. They do it now or they lose the money. I kind of doubt the businesses would rather pay a special assessment to have the work done next year at this time.

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