Downtown Indy Inc. says residential, commercial and recreational momentum continues to build as new developments spark growth in downtown Indianapolis. At the annual State of Downtown event Thursday, the organization said downtown residential real estate is "on fire," detailed a recent surge in office occupancy and reported a year-over-year increase in visits to downtown attractions. The group also addressed challenges, including adding a new staff person to address panhandling.
President Sherry Seiwert says as demand for housing surges, so do potential concerns about cost of living increases. "I think a healthy downtown has a continuum of price points for folks that want to live in an urban setting, but also that help to support our downtown employment base. And if we price folks out of the market, as was mentioned by one of our panelists, you know, we have the coastal issues of trying to get those employees into our market every day," she said. Seiwert adds that as population density grows, challenges including crime and cleanliness also grow and managing the "growing chaos" becomes more of an issue.
In an interview that will air this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Senior Fellow Aaron Renn, a featured speaker at the event, said Indy’s tech scene is unique among its peers. "Everybody likes to talk about urban tech, which is definitely big in San Francisco, New York, Boston, but outside of those kind of tier one markets, in cities the size of Indianapolis, really, there aren’t the thousands — there’s literally thousands of tech jobs in downtown Indianapolis — companies like Salesforce are coming in here, buying local firms and growing, not cutting," Renn said.
On the residential front, Downtown Indy Inc. says the number of downtown apartments increased 5 percent last year, compared to 2015. Researchers project the new units will result in about 6,000 new residents over the next few years, bringing downtown’s population to about 30,000 by 2020. The group also says average sale prices for single-family homes and condos are the highest they have ever been.
The organization says about 150,000 people work in downtown Indianapolis each day, many thanks to "explosive growth" in tech companies in the area. Downtown Indy says there are 73 projects currently in the works, representing nearly $3 billion in investment through 2022. Last year, it says companies and developers completed 44 projects to the tune of $800 million in investment.
Downtown Indy Inc. reports around 7.9 million visits to 23 surveyed downtown attractions in 2016. That marks a 1 percent increase over the previous year and the highest total since Indy’s Super Bowl year in 2012. The organization says the average visitor that comes downtown from the Indy metro area stays about three hours and spends around $74 per visit.
As it looks to the future, the organization says opening new public spaces is a priority. Projects set to open in the next few years include the Canal Play Space, City-County Plaza and the Idle. Downtown Indy says it is also studying the feasibility of an economic improvement district to help fund the organization’s efforts.
Downtown Indy Inc. President Sherry Seiwert says as demand for housing surges, so do potential concerns about cost of living increases.