Located east of Monument Circle Market East is bounded by New York Street, Delaware Street, East Street, and train tracks. Characterized by high-rise apartment complexes as well as key historical and governmental markers, the cultural district, a 21st-century rebranding of the former Market Square Arena site, is continuing to establish itself in Indianapolis. Minor setbacks afflicted the early redevelopment efforts but the strategy developed for the neighborhood’s growth has led it to become one of downtown Indianapolis’s most prominent residential locations.

View of a city skyline with a large empty area in the foreground.
Market Square Arena Site, ca. 2010s Credit: WFYI View Source

From 1974 to 2001, the area that became Market East was home to Market Square Arena. After demolition of the stadium in 2001, the void was filled with a patchwork of parking lots rather than any promising new developments. Though surrounded by the Indianapolis City-County Building, Indianapolis’ Old City Hall, and the Indianapolis City Market, it took approximately 13 years before revitalization of the area took hold (See City-County Buildings). Changes came after Mayor Greg Ballard and city stakeholders christened the Market East cultural district on April 16, 2014.

Ballard’s administration saw potential to develop Market East into a residential area after numerous entities committed to bringing business and recreation to the downtown area. Projects ranged from the construction of the Cummins Indianapolis headquarters to the 360 Market Square apartment building to a renovation of Old City Hall into the 21c Museum Hotel. Common urban revitalization strategies, such as an expansion of the city’s downtown tax-increment-financing (TIF) district, were used to bolster the development of these and other properties.

A view of three large buildings: a tall skyscrapper, a smaller skyscrapper, and a Whole Foods in the foreground.
360 Market Square apartment tower and Cummins Indianapolis distribution headquarters, 2018 Credit: Daryl Shook via Wikimedia Commons View Source

The Cummins Indianapolis headquarters opened in January 2017, while 360 Market Square would finally open its doors in March 2018 with a Starbucks and Whole Foods Market on its ground floor, after overcoming hurdles like contractor disputes and architectural alterations. Meanwhile, plans for the 21c Museum Hotel fell through in March 2017 after the Louisville-based developer failed to show noteworthy progress, forcing Indianapolis to move away from its agreement and to abandon the project.

Though its footprint is smaller than the Wholesale District and the Massachusetts Avenue area, neighboring cultural districts, Market East nevertheless has multiple attractions that draw people to the area. Most prominently is the presence of the Indianapolis City Market, a historic public market founded in 1821 and in its current brick building since 1886. Market East also boasts a portion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail as well as the Julia M. Carson Transit Center, Indianapolis’ Indygo transit hub, constructed in 2016.

By 2020, Market East continued its transformation from an area dense with city government buildings to one recognizable as an actual neighborhood. The evolution included plans to move the downtown jail, courts, and sheriff’s department from the City-County Building to the new Indianapolis Community Justice campus on the southeast side of Indianapolis in 2021. In addition, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s Administration considered ways to use the City-County Building, which added an open-air plaza in 2018, and Old City Hall. Market East’s future success hinges on successfully moving the justice-related buildings out of the area in 2021-2022, increasing TIF expansion, and capitalizing on its proximity to other economically successful neighborhoods like Massachusetts Avenue.

Revised June 2021

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