That wasn't enough for big-spending Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. In a plan announced on Friday, the City plans to spend $3.1 million in taxpayer dollars to try to revamp the facility. Jason Thomas of the the Indianapolis Star reports:
Contrary to the Star headline, this is not a "bold" proposal. Rather it is more of the same, an attempt by city government, acting to override the free market system, to try to get the "open marketplace" idea to catch on. The "bright colors" aren't going to change the fact that the area immediately around the City Market is still commercial and most of the patrons of the City Market are office workers who aren't inclined to go to the market for fresh produce and meats that they then have to cart back to their offices for the rest of the day.
City leaders today officially unveiled a bold makeover plan that they say will revitalize City Market and turn the historic Downtown Indianapolis building into a community-wide destination.
The $3.1 million plan is highlighted by a bold splash of colors -- envision reds, yellows, greens and blues -- decorating vendor stands and banners hanging from the ceiling in the main market -- a stark contrast from the current gray floors and support beams.
"This plan is not a timid plan," said Wayne Schmidt, president of the market's board, during a press conference this morning that drew Mayor Greg Ballard and city economic development leaders. "This is a totally new enterprise."
As part of the plan, the building's east wing will be home to a bicycle hub that will have space to park 400 bicycles and is geared toward users of the Cultural Trail,
which is adjacent to the market on Alabama Street. The hub also will have lockers and men's and women's showers, as well as a service and repair shop.
Officials are still deciding what will happen to the west wing, which is expected to be demolished and make the main building self-sufficient by adding restrooms, a new heating and cooling system and elevators.
Work on the renovation is expected to begin in the fall and be complete by next spring.
As part of the rebirth, market leaders also will add daily live music and entertainment, extend hours into the evening and launch a new brewery serving beer by the glass and carry-out. Negotiations, however, are still ongoing with the brewery.
Negotiations also are underway with up to five vendors, including a soup shop, a produce stand and fresh meat and cheese vendors. A bakery moved in last month and a pretzel vendor is expected to open in June.
Also, The Saturday Farmer's Market, which was a seasonal event, will operate year-round and will be located in the market's balcony during colder months.
The board would like to increase the number of vendors from 20 to 50, according Schmidt.
The renovation, funded by property tax revenue captured from a Downtown development district, is the first major step in the city's latest effort to revitalize the venue. In 2007, a $2.5 million renovation to update the floors, lighting and plumbing ran over budget and took about six months longer than expected.
I keep hearing other ideas like we need to keep the city market open longer and have Saturday hours. Or I hear the proposal that we need to make the City Market vendors take credit cards...that would help business. The fact is that if doing these things were profitable, the vendors would be already doing it on their own. You wouldn't have to force them to do it.
The bike storage area and showers are nice thought, but I doubt they will be much utilized and, regardless, it certainly won't be a profitable venture. I personally find the thought of showering in a public shower used by who knows to be a pretty disgusting thought, but hey that's me.
It's just yet another election year big spending project by the Mayor.