A Post-COVID downtown that better serves Indianapolis residents

Rendering: Merritt Chase 

 

Cities across the country are looking to reshape their downtowns to be more vibrant and resilient in the post-COVID world. While Indianapolis has had continued success attracting tourists and conventions to its Downtown, City leadership has been making ambitious moves to build on existing strengths to make the City more equitable and livable for residents, while attracting workers back to their offices. Indianapolis engaged HR&A to develop a coordinated, thoughtful, and impactful model for post-COVID Downtown recovery, focused on placemaking and user experience, equitable development, and equitable programming for local residents.  

 

The City’s Downtown Connectivity and Vision Plan was released on June 7, and the City has committed funding to execute the plan’s first public realm project. The timing of this release is key, as roughly 25% of Downtown blocks are currently being redeveloped with new buildings or improvements or soon to see investment. All of this investment has the potential to create a near-term headache and long-term jumble of projects. HR&A’s plan will inform public and private design decisions with the goal of connecting disparate elements of Downtown. 

 

HR&A acted as project management lead, heading a team that included Merritt/Chase (urban and landscape design), GANGGANG (cultural placemaking, branding and community engagement), DLZ (civil engineering), and Art Strategies (project advisor). The Vision Plan for South Downtown addresses and focuses on circulation, public realm interventions, and the activation of ground floor uses.  

 

Rendering: Merritt Chase 

 

As a component of the Vision Plan for the entire South Downtown neighborhood, Merritt Chase developed a concept plan to redesign Indianapolis’ Georgia Street and close part of the iconic Monument Circle to support public programming, both projects which are now moving towards implementation. Georgia Street and broader investment identified by the plan will improve overall connectivity and pedestrian safety to in turn create a more walkable Downtown that better supports its current and future residents, its visitors (both locally and nationally), and those who work, live, and play in Indy. 

 

In addition, HR&A is supporting the development of changes to City policies and structures that will create long term sustainable funding sources to keep public space beautiful and active long into the future, streamline clunky experiences such as permitting that can be difficult to navigate, and enable ongoing participation of community members in the decision making process surrounding how public spaces are managed. 

 

Read the full Connectivity Vision Plan here 

 

Press Coverage 

“Monument Circle, Georgia Street going (partially) car-free”Axios Indianapolis (June 2023) 

 

A Post-COVID downtown that better serves Indianapolis residents