Shreve’s downtown plan includes keeping Monument Circle open, more housing

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Mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve on Tuesday shared a vision for downtown Indianapolis that includes more office-to-residential real estate conversions and keeping Monument Circle open to traffic.

Shreve, a Republican, said downtown has declined under the leadership of his opponent, Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett. He recalled working at downtown’s Capital Center South Tower, 201 N. Illinois St., 30 years ago.

“As I walked around Monument Circle as a very young man, you could feel the vibe of our city. But we’ve lost that vibrancy,” Shreve told reporters in press conference in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Shreve said his priorities for downtown would include addressing vacant office space, preserving the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport, reducing aggressive panhandling and increasing beautification efforts. In revitalizing downtown, Shreve said he would try to capitalize on the realignment that will separate IUPUI into two independent urban campuses in Indianapolis.

Keeping Monument Circle to traffic

Shreve said the Spark on the Circle temporary park that has closed the southwest quadrant of Monument Circle to vehicle traffic since early July isn’t a long-term solution. He said his decision to keep the Circle open “comes out of conversations with the business community on and around the Circle who have seen a drop in revenue since Mayor Hogsett closed it.”

“Monument Circle has gone from a bustling epicenter to a place where business owners vacate leases and people no longer feel safe,” Shreve said. “Once Spark concludes, it’s time to roll up the artificial turf and allow cars and more people to circulate around the Circle again.”

The two-year seasonal pilot of Spark on the Circle is a partnership between the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, Downtown Indy Inc. and Big Car Collaborative, a not-for-profit arts and design organization.

Downtown Indy said foot-traffic data from phone-tracker shows that visits to that quadrant of Monument Circle from July 8 to Sept. 2 were 25% higher than in the same period last year. That data does not show whether those additional visits resulted in more business in the surrounding area.

The pilot program has led some to speculate on that the Circle might be permanently closed to vehicle traffic, something city officials have not confirmed or denied.

Vacant offices, future of the City-County Building

Shreve said the growing number of vacant office spaces downtown is a problem. The former Anthem headquarters on Momument Circle remains unused. The owners of Circle Tower are facing foreclosure and the Emmis Corp. building was recently listed for sale.

The vacancy rate for office space downtown in the second quarter of this year was 21.2%, according to Chicago-based JLL.

Shreve said vacant buildings should be converted to residential spaces or into more modern office spaces. He said he would use his experience in real estate as the founder of a successful self-storage company to redevelop defunct office buildings.

He said the IUPUI realignment will bring new students, faculty, researchers and entrepreneurs to downtown who can help fill the additional residential spaces.

“My administration will focus on those redevelopment opportunities to create the housing and the strategic amenities that will make this part of our downtown vibrant,” Shreve said.

The Hogsett administration on Monday announced plans to move nearly 550 employees into the City-County Building. About 250 of those employees already work downtown.

Shreve said this is one topic that he and the incumbent agree upon.

In an Aug. 24 interview with IBJ, Shreve said he would fill vacant floors of the City-County Building with city employees as private office leases come to an end.

Shreve also criticized the Hogsett administration’s handling of the City Market, which will be closed through renovations and is already experiencing a low number of vendors on month-to-month leases.

“This administration hasn’t given them any any vision of the way forward. They’re hanging on month-to-month. That is unfair,” he said. A Shreve administration would ensure the City Market comes out of the renovations stronger, he added.

Panhandling, beautification

The candidate said he would crack down on “aggressive panhandling” and renew efforts to address the issue “that withstand judicial scrutiny.”

“This is not a new problem, but visitors and citizens alike should feel safe downtown,” he said. “And it’s known by many that panhandlers are dealing with mental health issues, drug issues or both.”

He said he would “double-down” on governmental and charitable efforts to “provide shelter and sustenance” to the unsheltered and mentally ill. Shreve pointed to Salt Lake City as an example of a city that has found creative solutions to homelessness.

Shreve told reporters he is supportive of the effort to create a low-barrier shelter in Indianapolis. The city announced Tuesday that it had purchased the land for the 30,000-square-foot facility, which was first pitched in 2021.

Small grants for property owners to improve their buildings and facades are also part of Shreve’s vision, he said. He did not specify how much these grants would be or where the funds would come from, but said the city’s $1.6 billion budget could supply the funding.

Both the operating costs of the shelter and beautification efforts in downtown could be partially funded through the usage of an “economic enhancement district.”  The framework for the downtown tax district was added into the state budget this year and would require the Indianapolis City-County Council to pass a proposal that would then be signed by the mayor.

Shreve told reporters that he couldn’t commit to “opening up” the economic enhancement district framework until he knows the potential operating cost of the shelter. Generally, people in the Mile Square and within the inner loop don’t feel “undertaxed,” Shreve said, and the city must compete with areas like Carmel and downtown Greenwood.

Preserving the heliport

The Indianapolis Airport Authority has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to decommission the heliport, but a group of business leaders, aviation experts and the Indiana Department of Transportation have urged the airport authority to reconsider.

Shreve said the heliport should be kept open because it plays a critical role in emergency response and provides business opportunities. “Cities including Austin, [Texas], Nashville and Columbus, Ohio, all have heliports,” he said. “If Indy gives up the heliport land, our city will never get it back. There are too many future opportunities with the heliport.”

Hogsett’s response

Hogsett campaign manager Blake Hesch provided the following response to Shreve’s speech:

“In the last 24 hours, Mayor Joe has displayed real leadership by announcing the construction of our city’s first low-barrier homeless shelter and his decision to bring hundreds of City-County employees back downtown to boost the local economy,” Hesch said in a written statement. “Indianapolis residents deserve the opportunity to compare Mayor Joe’s $9 billion dollar Downtown Resiliency Strategy with whatever Jefferson’s plan happens to be, but in order to do that, our Republican opponent must provide more details than today’s 500-word vision statement.”

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38 thoughts on “Shreve’s downtown plan includes keeping Monument Circle open, more housing

  1. Shreve’s campaign promises can be organized into two categories:

    1.) Promises with an appeal to a demographic that is the largest outside of Marion County. These promises inherently have very limited ability to turn into Marion County votes.

    2.) Promises to do essentially the same things that Hogsett is already doing.

    Both types of Shreve promises are typically “abstract” in that they lack detail and substance. It would be shocking if Shreve came close to winning the election. He may be self-funded, but his messaging is just bad.

    1. +1.

      The heliport seems like an “issue” designed to get some rich folks to write him a check.

      4+ months after the primary and this is all Sheree has to offer. Maddening.

    1. I just choked reading that comment. We have regressed tremendously. Time for new policies and a PRESENT leader!

    2. Dan H, you need to get out more. I live and work downtown and it’s not as bad as you chicken littles want to believe. Go to any other major city in the country and you’ll see far more homeless people and many more vacant spaces. Recent data was released showing that Indianapolis is among the top downtowns for new businesses opening in the past year. Yes, there are lingering effects of the pandemic and the trend toward remote work, but it’s not that bad and is slowly but surely improving. Shreve has offered nothing new except preserving a heliport that only the ultra wealthy use (IU Health will have its own new heliport at the new hospital).

  2. Hogsett and the Democrats that run Marion County have set Indianapolis on the road to inevitable decline and despair.
    Republicans have left Marion County in droves and the Dems will continue to allow fentanyl, homeless camps, murder and other violent crimes. Their answer??? Don’t just kill adult Black and Hispanic males, kill them in the womb too!
    Shreve has no chance…..and Indy will continue in its descent into ruin!

    1. So says the voices rambling about in your head. Tell you what, instead of a predictable, generic rant try using statistics and other provable evidence to support your claims. We anxiously await your trove of “facts.”

    2. This article is about downtown. Some post has someone who clearly hasn’t been downtown lately…another has nothing positive to say. Another wants always to talk about abortion and his supposed religious high ground.
      And that guy who doesn’t even live here thinks he understands urban economic development…development … not just thinking lofty thoughts. Let it go Eisenhower fan.

  3. I for one don’t consider owning and operating storage units as real estate “experience.” But maybe Shreve’s plan for vacant office space downtown is to turn them into…storage units.

    1. Agreed. Constructing cookie cutter buildings on vacant land to take advantage of those down on their luck or suffering from the strange American need to own a lot of stuff isn’t exactly a sophisticated business.

  4. It seems that all Shreve can talk about, other than the typical Retrumplican scare tactic of crime, crime, crime, is the split of IUPUI. Yet, like every position he takes, there’s a serious lack of detail. Both IU and PU have had an increasing presence near downtown since the 1960s and it is entirely unclear how separating their administration will actually change anything.

    1. Well Target is closing stores in 4 states because of… guessed it CRIME. That could probably happen in Indy though, right? Oh, wait stores are closing and businesses leaving downtown because of crime. (I do like however Trump is once again the problem. If the space, he rents in your brain equivocated to downtown office leases there would be no vacancy problem.)

    2. What businesses are actually closing downtown and were not immediately backfilled?

      I bet you cannot name 5?

    3. +1.

      The only way that Indianapolis is getting a true Level 1 university is if the state of Indiana told IU and Purdue they wanted it to happen.

      And, say, mandated that what was Indianapolis was becoming a new university that was going to be a peer to IU and Purdue.

      Until that happens, and it won’t, Indianapolis will not have what it needs.

    4. News flash . . . the space Trump rents in everybody’s head is only 1/10 the size of what he and his Trumpsters claim it to be.

    5. Donald – you have to read ALL of the words.

      They’re closing due to organized crime.

      Ie things the state and federal government should be dealing with.

      Maybe the lazy states should do their job for once?

    6. In a 3 block area:

      Carson Pirie Scott
      Hubbard and Cravens off S. Meridian
      Jimmy Johns
      The Boiling
      Crab 99
      Studio 2000 Salon and Day Spa
      Dick’s Bodacious BBQ
      Scotties Brewhouse
      Adobo Grill
      All of Circle Center

      Should I go on? Downtown is dying. Hogsett’s had 8 years. Time for a change.

    7. Adam – half of your list went out of business completely – closed every store.

      the others just moved locations within the mile square

      The mall is its own issue because every mall in the country is dying.

      I do not disagree Hogsett is a weak leader – but Shreve is an equally unappealing answer.

      When will the either party find the unicorn independently wealthy (because you have to be to only make 90k salary for this job) who can appeal to the voter?

  5. I have seen a significant decline in the center of Indianapolis in the past 7 years. I do think part of this decline is due to tentative uninspiring leadership. One would think that a core surrounded by a thriving university to the northwest, a thriving health complex to the north, a major sports complex to the south ( LOS, GF, Indy 11 ), and two thriving entertainment areas to the southeast and northeast, that someone would figure out how to preserve the core. As the 8 ball used to say “Signs point to no”

    1. IMO most of the decline is due to the triple whammy of the Mall failing and COVID wiping out both the downtown office workers and the convention traffic that Indianapolis counts on.

      I’m all for alternatives to Joe Hogsett. Jefferson Shreve is managing to offer a worse alternative. All the challenges that Indianapolis faces and he’s worried about the Heliport and traffic on the Circle? Did he forget to offer an opinion on Daylight Savings Time and class basketball too?

      What exactly do Marion County Republicans stand for, other than “Joe Hogsett bad”? Did they not learn from the Marion County prosecutor election that running a “we aren’t the other guy” campaign isn’t going to work?

    2. I personally haven’t been to any American city where their CBD has fully recovered from COVID. I don’t think leadership has much influence on it. I also don’t think there’s been a significant decline apart from Circle Centre, but that’s subjective.

    3. But the residential population downtown continues to boom and is projected to continue it’s upward trajectory. If the sky if falling as some claim, what explains that growth?

  6. Okay, first of all, I m really sick of all the politicizing that goes on here…neither side is convincing the other and it just devolves into mean-spirited rants. My real question is this…why is the Mike square suddenly dotted with port-o-lets? They’re scattered around the business core, not in groups like you might expect at an event or something. If they’re being deployed to provide the homeless bathroom facilities, the task is failing because the smell of urine emanating from every alleyway is only rivaled by the smell of “weed” on every street corner. Thank you Mr. Prosecutor for unilaterally deciding not to enforce the law (and the oath you swore to uphold).

  7. Cracking down on panhandling has been Republican Fools Gold for 10+ years .Ballard said he’d make it a thing of the past in his first year of office. Welp, that didn’t work out.

    Not embracing Spark which has been an unquestionable success is mind boggling. Even if you’re trying to cater to inner-county subruban commuters, who chooses to drive through the Circle when you have two Interstates running downtown and better roads that get you through downtown than Market or Meridian?

    1. This, exactly. I’ve lived downtown (or adjacent) for much of my life and hardly ever use Meridian or Market to navigate the circle.

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