Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mayor Ballard's Spending Spree Continues; Announces $3.1 Million in Tax Dollars Will Be Sunk into Failed City Market Strategy

A couple weeks ago, I commented on the City Market's Board's plan to sink $2.7 million into renovating the facility. I noted that this $2.7 million followed a $2.5million dollar renovation of just a few years ago.

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:

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.


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.

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.


M Theory said...

Jungle Jim's, the most amazing store for foodies in the universe, is located in Cincinnati and IS a destination. By the way, Jungle Jim's wasn't created by government.

Paul K. Ogden said...

HFFT, I think that would constitute a "chain." No chain's allowed in the City Market!

Downtown Indy said...

To paraphrase an old wartime ditty: "We blew it before and we can blow it again."

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Jungle Jim's, it should be noted, is NOT in downtown Cincinnati, but on the bypass...with acres of parking.

Citizen Kane said...

"It's just yet another election year big spending project by the Mayor."

Exactly, the city is broke, but they can throw money at the City Market (ie -provide contracts to construction companies who contribute to the campaign to propagandize the sheep).

Watch for all the teeth gnashing at budget time, it is going to be painful for some.

However, certain contractors will have a smile on their face. I'm sure they are figuring out what else they can tear down, rebuild or renovate, so they can hand out more contracts.

That money from their multiple special downtown development districts is money stolen from the rest of the city that would normally be used to fund general city services.

Blog Admin said...

Wonder how much they'll be cutting Parks and Rec's budget in 2011 to pay for all this.

Marycatherine Barton said...


M Theory said...

Yeah, Jungle Jim's is not inside Cincy it is located in an outer suburb in the adjacent county, I think.

We have two huge parking lots across the street from City Market, so there is parking.

If you have not been to Jungle Jim's and you cook and appreciate food from every nook and cranny on earth, you need to make the drive.

It is utterly amazing and people drive from out of state to go all the time.

Brizzonator said...

Leave the Market to a Land Grant Trust to maintain and use it for Not for Profit Offices. The east side of downtown is uh DEAD!

Ever wonder why there is a massive unsightly gravel lot?

No condo development was ever going to succeed with the ORANGE JUMPSUIT FAN CLUB at the City County Building each day...



Brizzonator said...

If (and this is a big if) the CIB were being managed and being provided the proper diligence and oversight by its BOD the 2009 Audited Financial Statements would be out by now. There year ended more than 180 days ago... After the 2008 Financials were RESTATED and became FINAL in September would this not be the most IMPORTANT DUTY TO THIS BOARD?


M Theory said...

Something else...I don't think Jungle Jim's does multi million dollar renovations every 10 years. If you were in the place, you would agree. They spend their money on EXPANSION when the market dictates they need to grow more.

Pity our city doesn't realize it has no business being in business and simply doesn't sell the city market to someone who actually knows how to run business. Our government doesn't. They screw up virtually everything they touch.