Portions of Monument Circle, Georgia Street to become pedestrian-only

  • Comments
  • Print
Monument Circle plan

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Wednesday announced plans for a four-month closure to vehicles in the southwest quadrant of Monument Circle and a pedestrian-focused redevelopment of Georgia Street.

Hogsett said the projects mark the first steps in the South Downtown Connectivity Vision Plan, which is designed to improve public spaces , boost economic development and increase public safety in the southern portion of Mile Square.

The Monument Circle quadrant outside of the Emmis Corp. headquarters and South Bend Chocolate Co. is scheduled to become pedestrian-only from July 8 to Nov. 2 and will be used to host Downtown Indy Inc.’s Spark on the Circle programming.

Georgia Street west block plan

The area will be converted to a miniature park featuring turf, tabletop games, food and drinks, public restrooms, and a rotating lineup of local artists and performers.

Downtown Indy Inc. CEO Taylor Schaffer said the closure will allow for consistent, larger-scale events that can take place up to seven days a week. The events will be put on through a partnership with Big Car Collaborative, an arts-focused not-for-profit. The Capital Improvement Board plans to spend $750,000 on the initiative.

The announcement comes after recent closures of ground-floor retailers on the Circle, such as Starbucks and Green District. Rusty Carr, director of the Department of Metropolitan Department, said Monument Circle stakeholders were supportive of the decision as it could increase business to their shops. The plan will also include 24-hour policing and bring what Carr called “positive activity” to the area.

Some have long called for closing the roundabout to traffic as a means to create more activated, pedestrian-friendly spaces. Carr said the quadrant closure could serve as a “pilot.”

“It is an experiment and we’re learning,” Carr said. “We’ll see where that takes us in the future.”

The South Downtown Connectivity Vision Plan also calls for a reconfiguration of Georgia Street and what Hogsett called a “long-overdue” upgrade to the Union Station overpass.

The plan was created by the city in conjunction with groups including artist collective GangGang and includes recommendations for other city projects, such as the City Market area, the Convention Center expansion and Bicentennial Unity Plaza.

The DMD began collecting input in 2021, and prioritized district identity, streetscape improvements, gateways, and public space activation.

In partnership with the CIB, the city plans to transform the west block of Georgia Street into a “new front door” for the Convention Center and the planned Hilton Signia Hotel, according to a news release. The Hogsett administration will build and own the hotel, for which the City-County Council just approved up to $625 million in municipal bonds to finance.

Georgia Street east block plan

The plan calls for Georgia Street to become car-free between Illinois Street and Capitol Avenue. In the remaining segment from Pennsylvania Street to Illinois Street, the city will leave two center lanes available for vehicle traffic while expanding sidewalks on both sides of the corridor. The shift is expected to create a more appealing streetscape for pedestrians, while also allowing adjacent businesses to make use of more patio space, Hogsett said Wednesday.

The DMD went before the Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday afternoon to request $1.2 million in bonds from the downtown tax-increment financing district to pay for the design work on the Georgia Street redevelopment. The request was approved.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

32 thoughts on “Portions of Monument Circle, Georgia Street to become pedestrian-only

  1. Next up: “Activating” portions of the interstates going through downtown with programming – ping-pong tables, little libraries … fun stuff! – and bringing the benefits of “traffic calming” to all roadways. Genius!

    1. Apparently you haven’t visited the “activated” Idle Park on Virginia Ave. It’s pretty neat, like niagara falls with trucks instead of water.

    1. Downtown is currently 46% parking and 18% roads… I think you will survive the one time a year you venture down and pay$5 to park

  2. How do the Hotel’s of Downtown Indianapolis feel about paying taxes to fund a competing Hotel to be owned by the City? Or in other words, why is the City of Indianapolis getting into the Hotel business?

    Sounds like more closed roads and interrupted traffic for downtown businesses.

    Hopefully in the end, this vision brings people back downtown again, but in the interim downtown businesses pay the price.

  3. This administration has finally ‘jumped the shark’.! The timing also is also
    perfect to buy more millennial votes for the November mayoral election. Pitiful!
    This so called experiment is based in immature and uninformed urban planning, and Director Carr should be fired for even mentioning it again. The Georgia Street closing was inevitable, but closing the Monument Circle to traffic is a sign of trying to kill off the most important icon in the Stare of Indiana and the City. People drive to the Circle from all over the USA and are thrilled to drive around it and experience its majesty.
    More picnic tables, artificial grass, dog and human feces, more vagrants, more crime, more mediocre art, and more closed businesses is the last thing we need there. If we continue to put the kids in charge, we’ll continue to downgrade and ruin the circle. Must be time for a new mayor!!

    1. Director Carr and the Mayor should be receiving praise for this innovative project!!

      I’m not sure why you think closing off a quadrant of the circle is “a sign of trying to kill off the most important icon in the state of Indiana and the City”. Currently, there’s hardly anything to do at the circle except stare at it for 5 mins and leave because the only thing there are empty corporate offices. This project is all about showcasing the monument and giving people/visitors something to do at the circle. People don’t drive from around the US just to drive around something, they come for an experience which is what monument is leaking. Monument Circle needs to be something more than just a picture used in a postcard or a cut scene in sports game.

      It’s funny that you imply this project will cause more businesses to close when there’s maybe like three actual business on the circle that you can go in and buy/experience something. If Covid taught us anything, it’s that downtown was too dependent on commuters. Now that the work from home Jeanie has been release from the bottle there’s no going back. The city needs to diversify on who it’s serving, and in the last three years it has made great strides to do that (closing surface lots for apartments, adapting more greenspaces, promoting/developing cultural districts). The focus is now is making downtown more live-able for the people that actually live here and not the forgone era of we need parking spaces and clear roads for all the commuters.

      I find it amazing that all the people that say downtown is dying because of the businesses closing and the crime but scream at any solutions that’s different from the status quo and chalk it up as being “millennial” approaches. The phrase “adapt or die” comes to mind.

    2. “People drive to the Circle from all over the USA and are thrilled to drive around it and experience its majesty.”

      I’m gonna need to see some proof of that…

      Open a homeless shelter and prohibit panhandling and living in the area. The only vehicles on the Circle should be stationary food trucks.

    3. “People drive to the Circle from all over the USA and are thrilled to drive around it and experience its majesty.” There are times I wish I had whatever drug you’re taking.

    4. Kevin P.


      The art, architecture, decorative lightening are somewhat mediocre.
      We need bold lighting and colors. Bold architecture also.

      No more of this crappy artwork. Perfect example was the black shredded
      tires on that probably cost the city an arm & leg. It was flat out ugly!!!!!!!!

  4. The rest of Georgia Street needs some work especially in front of Gainbridge. The pavement is stained, plant material has died, bollards are missing etc. the City needs to keep this area maintained since millions were spent on this street prior to the Super Bowl. Looking bad.

  5. Does anyone know when the Georgia st work is expected to begin? More specifically the work between Pennsylvania and Illinois st?

  6. It will be filled with Trans People.

    As in Transparent.

    North Meridian is filled with great parks. I’m all for nice trees on the Circle, but let’s finish the renovations to the Monument and keep the traffic lanes open.

  7. I have made multiple inquiries about the bricks we purchased many years ago on the east leg sidewalks. What is to become of those if they remodel those walks? I want my brick back. Thank you

  8. I’m with Eric R! It wasn’t too long ago that we called downtown “Indynoplace”. We’ve come a long way but the journey isn’t finished. I love cars but lets quit giving them priority in downtown entertainment areas over pedestrians and cyclists.

    1. I can see moving the bollards farther into what is now a 3-lane wide circle, and maybe banning curb parking. But with all the other construction downtown, and with a hotel on the SW side of the Meridian leg out of the Circle, this is not a good thing.

      It wasn’t long ago that planners were hyping “woonerfs”, Dutch-style shared plaza spaces for cars, bikes, and pedestrians with minimal signage and signals. The Circle is the US’ preeminent example.

    2. Nobody said that but weirdo Hillary… Indianapolis is Great! Anybody don’t like it?? Leave!!!!! Nobody cares!! Great job Hogsett!!!! Landslide come November!! Now let’s push and get that marijuana legalized and stop losing billions!!! Every year!!! Just in Indiana and let these old dries up mutts pass on over to the eternal home and let’s get to the real!

  9. Right on! The big cities have been doing this for years. We’re getting there. It will be a great experiment and hope it will draw a big enough group of people who live and work down here. I for one will be glad to use it during my lunch hour, or after work. A younger, fresher, hipper Indy is a step in the right direction. We build cities for the future – not the has been.

  10. Since the city is turning the southwest quadrant of the Circle into a pedestrian
    area only, it also should do four things in addition to complement the pedestrian
    only quadrant.
    1). Get rid of the vagrants. Do not allow them to sleep, loiter, or panhandle.
    Do not tolerate it for one minute.

    2). Work with the new parent company of WIBC to keep their operations on the
    Circle. There should be 24 hour live broadcasting with neon lights and lighted

    3). Develop a residence/business suites for highly qualified STEM techies and
    artists to live and work in the old Anthem space. Fill that space with recent grads
    wanting to do independent STEM-researchers , architects, and artisans from
    many of our prestigious schools including schools from out of state.

    4). Set a sound system up to play music continuously on the quadrant. Something very similar to what has been done on South Street along the Alexander Hotel and the Irsay YMCA.

    I sincerely hope this Pedestrian only area is a huge success.

    1. In regard to #4, there already is a PA system in place there & it’s functional. The city has used it over the last 3-6 years, at least, for various events; specifically playing music. They can certainly make better use of it. Perhaps playing original music by Indiana (born and/or raised and/or current) musicians will open the ears of those in the vicinity.

  11. This a pretty neat. There are so many European cities I have visited that have great public spaces with tables spilling out from restaurants into the square, and even great town squares (or circles in the case) where car traffic is allowed only on one side.

  12. So if I’m reading this correctly, from Illinois to Penn they’re going to tear out the boardwalk that currently runs down the center of the street and use that space for cars and then turn the existing car lanes into expansions of the sidewalks?

    I suppose that is an improvement. That center boardwalk area is kind of pointless and usually just provides a place to park bird scooters.

    My one suggestion on this would be to make Meridian to Penn totally pedestrian as well and Leave only the Illinois to Meridian section passable for vehicles. There are so many bars/restaurants between Penn and Meridian and a ton of foot traffic through there. Would be nice to see that just become ped only as well.

    As for the circle….shut it all down. Make it a beautiful urban park. It would be fantastic.