Friday, February 28, 2014

Downtown Indianapolis needs a food store attractor

Since my first visit to Indianapolis in 2000, the city has dramatically transformed itself from a dormant city into an attractive, busy, dynamic city.  Many trendy restaurants have opened, the convention center has expanded, the JW Marriott opened last year; many efforts have been made to revitalize the city center, from condominiums development, the classy Mass Ave, to the latest CityWay project.

I am originally from France, came to Indianapolis in September 2004, and since then have become a huge advocate of Indianapolis and Indiana.  The city and the state have numerous assets to attract investors, companies and people from all over the world.

In my first job in France out of college, I worked at a local Chamber of Commerce as a consultant in economic development and marketing to the retail sector.  In many cities, the “downtown” (or centre ville), has been deserted by the population who prefers to live and shop in the city’s outskirts (more convenient to access, to park, large selection of stores).  For city officials, having a major food store and open market has been a priority to revitalize the centre ville and attract people back to downtown, to live, or spend more time shopping, dining – in short to bring the city center experience back into their lives.

Before moving to Indianapolis, I lived for two years in Portland, OR.  Portland is an example to follow for cities across the country for public transit, downtown revitalization, city planning and green initiatives.  Just a few months after I moved to Portland, Whole Foods opened a store downtown, ideally located between the Pearl District (a sort of Mass Ave) and the 21st-23rd streets (a sort of Broad Ripple).  This was a major draw and boost to the city center.

Indianapolis has a Whole Foods on the North Side (86th street), two 
Trader Joe’s (86th street West and 82nd street East), but lacks of appealing/trendy offering in the south side or downtown.  I am convinced that having a Whole Foods or Trade Joe’s (probably a Whole Foods with its breakfast/lunch catering and seating area – more appealing to hang out) is needed downtown.  The Circle Center Mall is lacking a big brand to retain customers.  A Whole Foods for instance would not only serve downtown residents who need to buy groceries (downtown residents are the perfect demographics for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s), it would also serve those who work downtown to do their grocery shopping over lunch time or right after work.

Indy now has attractive restaurants, great hotel/convention space offering; it needs an attractive food store. Oh! And also an attractive/trendy/fashion European-style clothing store (being French, I have a hard time finding clothes I like in Indy and have to buy them during my business trips in Europe – or on line J).

What main retail attractor do you see for downtown Indianapolis?

1 comment:

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