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Downtown Indianapolis: A plan to get the city center back on track

New: Indy Rebuilding and Recovery Committee
Downtown Indianapolis.PNG
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 18:05:07-04

INDIANAPOLIS—It's no secret. Downtown Indianapolis has taken a beating over the last four months.

In March, the pandemic shut down businesses, sports, restaurants, conventions and hotels. Then came damage to many businesses from looters following protests over the George Floyd police killing in Minneapolis. Some businesses are still boarded up.

Now, something is being done to get downtown back on track. Tuesday, Downtown Indy, Inc., announced the Downtown Indy Rebuilding and Recovery Committee. It's goal is to address the economic challenges of COVID-19, as well as social and racial inequity.

Downtown Indy, Inc. describes itself as a public/private not-for-profit partnership existing to improve downtown.

“Our intent is to put forth a solution-focused approach to rebuilding downtown as we navigate the dramatic impact that COVID-19 is having on our downtown,” said Sherry Seiwert, president and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc.“ We are assembling business and civic leaders representing businesses large and small, private and public to outline essential drivers toward the reemergence of a thriving and inclusive Downtown and a vibrant core.”

Here are some of the committee members, with more to be named:

  • Brad Chamber, President/CEO, Buckingham Companies
  • Tamara Cypress, CSR Consultant, Black Onyx Management, Inc.
  • Mamadou Diallo, Owner, J Benzal Menswear
  • Rick Fuson, President/COO, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
  • Chris Gahl, Senior Vice President, Visit Indy
  • Craig Huse, CEO, Huse Culinary
  • Malina Jeffers, Cultural Entrepreneur, and Board Member of Indianapolis Downtown Marketing, Inc.
  • Lacy Johnson, Partner, IceMiller LLC
  • Angela Smith Jones, Deputy Mayor, City of Indianapolis
  • John Lechleiter, Downtown resident
  • David Lies, Vice President, OneAmerica
  • Cebronia Luft, Founder and Owner, Pavilion at Pan Am
  • Thomas McGowan, president & COO, Kite Realty Group Trust
  • Derrick Richardson, Owner, DR Salon
  • Sherry Seiwert, President/CEO, Downtown Indy, Inc.
  • Rev. Mary Slenski, Interim Rector, Christ Church Cathedral
  • Rick Trimpe, Vice President, Hertz Investment Group
  • Pete Ward, COO, Indianapolis Colts

Lacy Johnson and Thomas McGowan will co-chair the committee.

“It’s time to get back to business,” stated McGowan. “We are at a critical crossroads for downtown and we need to demonstrate that downtown is open and ready to welcome back employees and visitors and encourage them to join the thousands of residents in supporting downtown businesses struggling through these challenging times.”

"Part of this rebuilding effort is getting the word out that downtown is open and reminding folks that what they love about downtown is still here, including beautiful parks, great outdoor experiences, abundant restaurants and engaging attractions," said Johnson.

The committee will have a number of areas of focus, as outlined in a press release from Downtown Indy, Inc.

  • Assess the existing environmental landscape and relevant information impacting recovery including data collection around business interruption and associated costs, real-time inventory/map of business tenants, timelines for return-to-work from all sectors, consumer confidence trends, etc.
  • Seek additional industry-specific input to identifying existing barriers preventing stabilization and recovery within each sector-type.
  • Support existing Black-owned businesses and seek opportunities to reduce barriers that could lead to an increase in the number of Black-owned businesses.
  • Develop and launch hyper-local focused promotions targeted at prospective downtown consumers from Central Indiana.
  • Create inclusive and diverse events that build equitable and quality of life experiences balanced against the continued public health crisis and its limitations.
  • Review, support and expand quality of life fundamentals for downtown, including continued street cleanliness, beautification, and safety/security issues.
  • Assist in identifying additional funding partners and other organization critical to the long-term success of downtown’s recovery.

“Downtown has become our city’s fastest growing neighborhood -- a center for business, hospitality, and tourism, as well as a growing number of individuals and families who call the area home. The success the Mile Square has enjoyed over the last decade is undeniable and we can’t allow the momentum to dissipate even as we continue to address the public health challenges associated with COVID-19,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett.

“This Downtown Indy, Inc. committee will bring together stakeholders from a diverse group of organizations to think critically about the needs of our downtown’s success in the short term, while also developing strategies to ensure a more vibrant Mile Square in the future. In the coming days, we will be announcing plans for a county-wide approach to jump-starting the Marion County economy and the work of this committee will ensure that our downtown is well positioned to once again welcome residents and visitors alike.”