Commercial Real Estate’s Sphere of Influence Grows in the Circle City

by Kristin Harlow

Indianapolis is a humble midwestern city that often seems to fly under the radar, but for those willing to take a closer look, they will find more than just a famous racetrack and cornfields. Indianapolis is a dynamic city with a thriving commercial real estate market. Sitting as the 14th-largest city in the U.S., Indianapolis is the economic heart of the region and has experienced steady growth over the past decade — and with true Hoosier hospitality. Here’s a look at what’s happening and what’s to come in the Indianapolis market.

Downtown Indianapolis has rapidly evolved over the last few years. The “Circle City” gained momentum through the emergence of a thriving technology sector and steady employment gains in an already economically diverse business landscape. Those influences added to the convenience and tourism that make downtown a desirable destination for retailers. Increased interest from brands has spurred new development and better amenities.

Kaley Eakle, JLL

An additional 1 million square feet of first-floor commercial space has been added in downtown Indianapolis over the last eight years, and an additional 400,000 square feet is expected over the next few years — a firm foundation that tells an incredible story of growth and investment.

Mass Ave.

A significant increase in investment has most recently been focused on Massachusetts Avenue, a one-mile long dining and entertainment district on the northeast side of downtown. Along this strip you can find luxury apartments with street-level retail that house restaurants, bars, boutique fitness studios and local retailers.

Situated on the far east end of Massachusetts Avenue is Bottleworks District — the largest private development of its kind in Indiana. The $300 million mixed-use redevelopment of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant will transform into 12 acres of entertainment, restaurants, residences, office and hospitality. Bottleworks will be the second large-scale development in Indianapolis delivered by Beloit, Wisconsin-based Hendricks Commercial Properties. Hendricks completed Ironworks Keystone, a high-end mixed-use development on the northside of Indianapolis, in 2017.

Bottleworks Phase I, slated for completion in the second quarter, will include 120,000 square feet of retail and the Bottleworks Hotel. Phase I of the transformative development will introduce a 30-vendor food hall dubbed “The Garage,” boasting some of the city and region’s best restauranteurs and merchants. From ramen, poke, Brazilian food and oysters to coffee roasters, brewers and florists, this modern market will curate a unique mix of vendors that will be found in a 28,000-square-foot portion of the historic building.

The former Coca-Cola administration building will be home to the new 140-key boutique Bottleworks Hotel operated by Geronimo Hospitality Group. It will house its own bar and restaurant concept. The ground level of the hotel will house 70,000 square feet of street-level retail.

Bottleworks District is being constructed in four phases. The 12-acre mixed-use urban development will ultimately consist of 200+ residential units, 180,000 square feet of office, 175,000 square feet of retail and additional commercial flex space with a final completion slated for 2023.

Shifting from the arts and entertainment that is Bottleworks, on the near west side of downtown sits an expansive 60-acre development dedicated to innovation and research named 16 Tech. The $500 million development by Indianapolis-based Browning is strategically positioned in an academic, corporate and research corridor. The development is designed to be an integrated 24-hour live/work/play/learn community that will include flexible office, wet lab and makerspace, multifamily housing, onsite hotel, dining and retail options.

The urban innovation district will be anchored by a 120,000-square-foot building that will be occupied by the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Indiana University School of Researchers. The anchor research and office facility is expected to open in the fall.

With all the development and growth that is happening downtown — residential units have kept on pace to meet the influx of residents making the move to be in the heart of Indy. If all planned projects are built out, downtown will see nearly 4,000 new units and approximately 8,000 new residents by 2024.

Beyond downtown

Downtown is just the tipping point of spurred interest in investment from corporations, capital providers and local/private developers alike. Fishers, an affluent suburb just 20 minutes north of downtown, has also seen an influx of master-planned mixed-use developments.

The Yard at Fishers District, an 18-acre mixed-use development led by Indianapolis-based Thompson Thrift, is slated for completion this fall. Fishers District is situated between a newly constructed IKEA and Topgolf and offers visitors and residents alike a wide variety of local and regional restaurant favorites, plus a mix of other retail and service-oriented options. Many of the retailers are currently open and experiencing heavy traffic. Also included in the $86 million development are luxury apartments with street-level retail and a Hyatt House hotel.

A hop, skip and a jump to the west is an urbanization project and redevelopment of Nickel Plate District. The $170 million mixed-use project will be anchored by a six-story headquarters as part of a unique public-private partnership between Browning Investments, First Internet Bank and the city of Fishers. The development at Nickel Plate District will feature residential, parking, retail and a high-end boutique hotel.

Indianapolis is a strong market. Affordability, economic diversity, infrastructure, retail spending power and a central location make up the foundation of growth and stability that has driven the demand for new developments and investment across the Indianapolis metro area. It’s an exciting time to be in commercial real estate in Indianapolis.

— By Kaley Eakle, Associate Broker, JLL. This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Heartland Real Estate Business magazine.

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