The city of Indianapolis plans to spend $750,000 from the downtown tax-increment financing district to improve safety in and around the Mile Square, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Wednesday.
The announcement comes after months of complaints from residents, workers and business owners that downtown has become unsafe following pandemic-related shutdowns and protests that turned violent earlier this summer.
For weeks, business owners along Monument Circle and at City Market have complained the areas have become unsafe, driving business away.
The funding follows the creation of the Downtown Indy Rebuilding and Recovery Committee in late June to strategize ways to address the issues facing downtown. The committee has been working on a blueprint for recovery.
The $750,000 comes from the downtown TIF district, which captures the growth in assessed value of properties downtown, generating increased property tax revenube spent by the city on new public infrastructure and other investments.
The funding will be administered by the Capital Improvement Board to Downtown Indy Inc.
Plans call for the funding to a pay for:
– Increased foot and bike patrols of off-duty Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers in the downtown area, increasing the hours they provide that coverage from about 20 to 80 per week.
– Launching the Safety Ambassador Program, which will employ civilians and IMPD cadets to assist downtown patrons and business owners while also serving as extra eyes and ears throughout the Mile Square. The funding will pay for two eight-hour shifts of four ambassadors seven days a week.
– Creating a network of more than 150 street-level cameras in partnerships with businesses in the Mile Square that will operate through an existing IMPD camera program.
– Added mobile cameras positioned in crime hot spots that will be monitored by IMPD.
– Increased partnership between IMPD’s Downtown District, IMPD’s Narcotics Unit and IMPD’s Homeless Unit to identify areas with increased activity and deploy resources more strategically.
The funding is for one year.
“Few neighborhoods in our city have borne the mark of recent events like downtown,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said Wednesday. “Whether it was a vacancy brought on by quarantine at the height of the pandemic, or the uproar that took over our streets in the wake of protests in May, or the presence of our homeless population that has been crowded out of shelters due to capacity restrictions. Nobody needs to tell them downtown has faced too many tough challenges in these last five months.”
“We’re on the way back,” he added.
Sherry Seiwert, president and CEO of Downtown Indy Inc., said downtown is open for business and the organization will do whatever it can to encourage the community to rally for and support downtown restaurants, retailers and attractions, which are struggling.