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City Market businesses say goodbye for now

Indianapolis City Market to close for renovations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis City Market will close for renovations Thursday, forcing a dozen or so businesses to temporarily relocate.

Just Cookies and a few others will close for good, according to the cookie shop owner, David Stockton. “It will be a rough ride home Thursday night; a lot of wonderful memories here in this building. We’ve met a lot of great people along the way.”

Stockton has worked from the market for 35 years, surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and the downtown Indianapolis riots. He opted to retire a little early. “We were hoping that we could eek out a few more years, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Late last summer, Gersham Partners and Citimark agreed to develop the nearly 150-year-old City Market building along with some other buildings around it. Another private company will take over day-to-day operations of the market when it reopens in approximately two years.

Brenda Barrett, the owner of Jack’s Barber Shop, said she was lucky to find a new place for her business on Delaware Street. “My rent is going to be triple what I’m paying here, but I have a lot more square footage and it’s going to be amazing.”

Barrett was frustrated that city officials did not tell her until Dec. 13 that she had to vacate City Market by the end of February.

Other vendors says they were told they had to reapply if they wanted to return to City Market after the renovations.

“If they don’t let the merchants come back, it would be the first time in Market history that they haven’t allowed the merchants to return. I’ve been here through two other renovations, and they put us up in the wings. Now, they are telling us to get out,” Barrett said.

Back at the cookie shop, Stockton remembers serving hot cookies to visitors when Lucas Oil Stadium hosted the Super Bowl in 2012, and feeding members of the media covering the Mike Tyson rape trial in 1992.

But more recently, turning a profit for the remaining businesses has been difficult. “We’re going to be very interested to come down and see what it looks like in two years because this building certainly is very old and the infrastructure needs a lot of work,” Stockton said.

News release

“INDIANAPOLIS – Today, February 29, 2024, the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) and Indianapolis City Market Corporation provided an update ahead of the temporary closure of the Indianapolis City Market house effective at end of business on March 1, 2024. This public notice follows an update provided in December 2023.

“‘The Indianapolis City Market has served as an integral part of the Indianapolis community for decades,’ said Megan Vukusich, director of DMD. ‘With the last major renovation of the market house dating back to the 1970s, substantial investment in the market house is necessary to sustain its legacy in Indianapolis for generations to come. We thank the vendors who have been part of the City Market’s story and look forward to re-establishing this historic small business hub and community gathering space to its place as a bustling fixture of downtown Indianapolis.’

“Following the closure of the market house to the public, vendors will begin to decommission their space prior to the commencement of long-awaited renovations. In response to an assessment completed in 2021, this renovation period will address key structural components including ventilation, plumbing, electricity, loading docks, emergency amenities, and more.

“It is anticipated that upon reopening, a private operator will be responsible for the day-to-day functions of the market house, including assisting in the selection process of future vendors. The Indianapolis City Market Corporation and DMD will work in tandem to develop and implement food access and food entrepreneurship programming through initiatives like Indianapolis’ Original Farmers’ Market.

“‘The Indianapolis City Market Corporation is happy that investment is coming to the market house,’ said Keisha Harrison, Executive Director of the Indianapolis City Market Corporation. ‘We look forward to continuing to elevate local food brands and increase food access through the weekly outdoor Original Farmers’ Market this summer.’

“At the beginning of the year, DMD and the Indianapolis City Market Corporation began meeting with vendors to better understand the future plans for their business. In addition to waiving January and February rent, the City has offered financial support and technical resources to assist vendors during this transition. While the future plans for each vendor vary, information including relocation details for each business, if applicable, will be made available on the Indianapolis City Market Corporation’s website.

“As a part of a grander vision for the Mile Square, the renovation of the Indianapolis City Market is one of several key components of the City Market East and West Plaza Redevelopment project announced in 2022. In partnership with local developers Gershman Partners and Citimark, this $200 million redevelopment project includes the office-to-residential conversion of the 20-story Gold Building, construction of an 11-story tower on the east wing of the campus, a public plaza on the west wing of the campus, and upgrades to the office tower at 251 E. Ohio Street, bringing approximately 400 housing units, pedestrian infrastructure, and public space upgrades to the City Market block.”

Kennedy MaKay Weaver, public information officer, Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development