Market East / by Jim Hodapp

What happens when a city adds a lot of residents to its downtown that are really eager to be there? What happens when a city adds hundreds and thousands of new residents to an area that is 5 minutes walk from the center of the city, 5 minutes walk from the bustling trendy area with many shops, restaurants and places to congregate? Or how about being a 10 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride from another trendy area along a world-class protected bike and pedestrian pair of great looking paths? What you get is a district of Indy called Market East.

Market East

Market East

I now call myself a resident of this area of downtown Indianapolis and can speak to it's tremendous location. I walk my dog twice a day around here and can attest to being able to get to everything I need, on foot. How many desirable US downtowns can claim this distinction? Indy has the good fortune of already being a very compact downtown, contrary to most of the rest of the county that it resides in. This has been working out nicely for the Market East district, which even 2 years ago was still a decrepit old factory and large surface parking lots for commuters. Now it's turning into a fantastic place to work, to live and to socialize. The Artistry apartments along with the second phase called Mentor/Muse are great apartment communities with nice amenities like an outdoor infinity pool, outdoor kitchen, bocce ball, putting green, community garden, fantastic pair of workout rooms, etc. They accommodate bikes well, they have wide sidewalks around them and they've even done car parking well with a very well hidden two-level garage.

What does this have to do with urban experiment? Market East is a poster-child for what happens when all elements of what humans need start to present themselves. It's a walkable/bikeable area thanks to sidewalks, mostly reasonable streets that aren't super wide highway-like stroads, it has easy access thanks to its proximity to shops, restaurants and green spaces, and this has hardly needed much prodding from the city. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is largely responsible for a resurgence of many parts of downtown because it brought pedestrians who pop into shops and restaurants much more frequently than commuters or people passing through by car. When you walk or bike next to things which are both at humans speeds instead of speeding through locked in a car, you tend to much more easily involve yourself in the built environment of areas as well as care for/about these areas. As someone who just moved from a much more car-centric part of Indianapolis, I can attest to this.

To sum this all up, a place becomes very desirable and very valuable once it is built to accommodate humans first. This is a lesson that Market East clearly demonstrates as a new 28 story apartment building with Whole Foods gets built and a very nicely integrated 10 story Cummins office building with retail space gets built in this area. These will make Market East even more desirable because both projects focus on people living and working, not just commuting by car. They are not a small leap, but it was the small improvements like the Cultural Trail and more residents that made these projects natural larger steps to take to evolve an exciting part of downtown Indy.

Check out the Market East experiment page for more pictures of Market East.