The outgoing chief executive officer of Downtown Indy Inc. says the state of downtown continues to rebound from the pandemic. In her final State of Downtown, Sherry Seiwert says residential growth is picking up with apartment occupancy at just under 97%, while the downtown workforce is beginning a slow climb back to normalcy. “Over the last three months, we’ve seen an acceleration in those return-to-work numbers,” she said. “We’re at almost 65%, still in a hybrid mode, but…this time last year, we would’ve been at 25%.”
Seiwert discussed the state of downtown in an interview with Inside INdiana Business.
“The good news is that individuals are still wanting to live in our downtown and ideally looking forward, we’ll continue that pattern,” she said. “There’s that continued interest from our younger workforce and that talented workforce wanting to live in an urban neighborhood. So, I think that bodes well for Indianapolis going forward.”
DII’s annual Community Report shows the vacancy rate for office and commercial space in downtown Indy ticked up from 16.5% in 2020 to 18.1% in 2021. Seiwert says it still remains to be seen how employers may transition their existing footprints in a increasingly hybrid work setting.
“There could [also] be, looking forward, more conversion of office space to residential in the future,” Seiwert added.
The report says the assessed value of downtown properties has risen 6% since 2019.
Additionally, development in downtown Indy is on the rise with 128 non-residential project permits were issued last year, compared to just 34 in 2020. The report shows nearly $4 billion has been invested in projects that were either completed in 2021 or are in the pipeline.
More residents are traveling downtown for events, according to the report, with attendance at primary downtown attractions and arts and cultural institutions rising 50% over 2020. Sporting event attendance grew by 220%.
Just last week, Seiwert announced she is leaving as CEO after 10 years in the role. She says now is the perfect time to step down as downtown Indy is recovering.
“Now is the perfect time to bring in new leadership, new vision with the ability to kind of look forward,” she said. “I think now will be the perfect time to think about how we add additional amenities. We’ve often thought of downtown as a place for commerce, a place for visitors. We know that it is now a place as a neighborhood. We need to think about what types of amenities that we need to add to our downtown as well.”
You can connect to the full 2022 Community Report from Downtown Indy Inc. by clicking here.