On July 27, 1977, Indiana governor Otis R. Bowen and Indianapolis Mayor William H. Hudnut Iii, in conjunction with the Merchants Association of Indianapolis, Inc., announced the formation of the Commission For Downtown (CFD), Inc. The organization’s original function was monitoring beautification activities in the Mile Square of downtown Indianapolis.

A simplified drawing of Washington Street and the buildings lining it.
A rendering of the proposed rejuvenation of Washington Street, a project that was part of the Commission for Downtown’s 1982 Beautification Program Credit: Indiana University Indianapolis View Source

The first major project for the commission was the bricking of Monument Circle. CFD was responsible for coordinating private sector involvement in this effort as well as maintaining the site after the beautification was complete.

In the 1980s, the commission’s focus expanded. Along with advocating for the beautification and enhancement of the downtown environment, CFD began serving as a voice for the specific interests and issues of the community. The organization worked with several related agencies on improvement and promotional efforts for downtown, including the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (later known as Visit Indy), Indianapolis Project, Inc., the Indianapolis Economic Development Corporation (later known as Indy Partnership), and Indiana Sports Corporation.

By the early 1990s, a number of major downtown projects had been completed or were underway, including the Hoosier Dome, White River State Park, and Circle Centre Mall. As a result of these developments, an analysis of the Commission For Downtown was requested by the Administration Of Stephen Goldsmith and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (Gipc). The results of this study highlighted the need for more focused marketing, planning, and development efforts for downtown.

In January 1993, the Commission for Downtown was restructured as Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. (IDI). The organization continued to promote downtown but with a new emphasis on management, safety, planning, and development. The group’s new marketing duties became the responsibility of Indianapolis Downtown Marketing Inc. (IDMI), an IDI subsidiary directed by a board of local marketing and public relations professionals.

Crowds of people are gathered around the circle as the monument is illuminated and patriotic images are projected across the buildings on the circle.
Downtown Indy, Inc. and Indiana War Memorials Commission partnered to enhance Monument Circle with the addition of Indy’s nightly “Signature Salute,” ca. 2020s Credit: Visit Indy View Source

From 1993 to 2012, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. was led by Tamara Zahn. During her stewardship, Zahn shared a vision for the potential of downtown with numerous city stakeholders that ultimately led to the creation of a world-class tourist destination as well as a place for locals to live, work, and play while always experiencing something new. 

Two years after Zahn stepped down as president, IDI was renamed Downtown Indy, Inc. (DII). DII continues to develop, manage, and market Downtown Indianapolis as a residential, business, and recreational district. Its work is funded by corporate memberships.

Revised March 2021

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