Indy Chamber eco-devo guru expects West 16th Street corridor to gain momentum

The city’s top economic development executive said the West 16th Street corridor should gain momentum over the next year, with several projects expected to get off the ground.

Portia Bailey-Bernard, vice president of economic development for the Indy Chamber, said projects like the $60 million redevelopment of the Stutz business campus and the expansion of IU Health’s downtown campus—both either adjacent to or within blocks of the corridor—will help reshape the northern portion of downtown.

“I would keep my eye out on development north and south of 16th Street,” she said following a panel discussion during IBJ’s annual Commercial Real Estate and Construction Power Breakfast on Friday morning.

“I’m really excited about [the Stutz] project. Their vision … is a very similar vibe to 16 Tech, and why I’m really excited about that project—what I admire—is the intent of the owners in redeveloping the Stutz buildings in a manner that honors the culture and history” of the property, she said.

Bailey-Bernard leads Indy Chamber’s Develop Indy organization, which acts as the economic development arm for the city of Indianapolis and Marion County.

On Aug. 30, Stutz owner SomeraRoad said it would invest about $60 million to reposition the seven-building property at North Capitol Avenue and 10th Street. The redevelopment is expected to occur in phases, with the creation of co-working space, event areas and various amenities, like a vintage-car museum.

IU announced in August 2020 it would add eight blocks to its downtown campus, as part of a consolidation of Methodist and University hospitals. The project would extend from 16th Street south to 12th Street.

Bailey-Bernard said she expects those projects will serve as key anchors for a downtown resurgence. Additionally, several apartment and retail buildings are either in the works or have recently opened along 16th Street.

The Wesmont, a project from locally based TWG Development, debuted over the summer at 16th Street and the Monon Trail. And developers The Annex Group and Hageman Group are building Union @ 16th along the White River, at the southeast corner of the Pershing Street, Lafayette Road and 16th Street intersection.

The IBJ panel also touched on a variety of other topics, including workforce availability, equity and inclusion in development, what could come next for the City-County Building and how the city and developers are emphasizing projects along transit lines.

During her discussion with IBJ following the panel, Bailey-Bernard also said she expects continued focus on areas like the Market East Cultural District, from Delaware Street to East Street downtown. Several municipal-owned properties are in or near that district—two county jails and the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport among them.

“There’s a lot of momentum there,” she said, adding that nearby Elevator Hill, the former Angie’s List campus, is picking up steam as a business and education campus.

Discussions are ongoing about what could come of Circle Centre mall, she said. The property has been plagued by vacancies and other challenges over the past few years, some of which were exacerbated by the pandemic.

She said the city has deployed the Indy Chamber to pursue potential uses for the property, but no decisions have been made.

“Because the mall is so central to downtown … we want to ensure that we’re being very thoughtful as to what the next iteration of the mall will be,” she said. “The possibilities are endless.”

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