THIS JUST IN: City teaming with Downtown Indy, Inc., to confront Downtown safety issues

This report is an addendum to the September edition of Urban Times, which went to press just prior to the funding announcement. In the September edition, editor Bill Brooks opines on the current situation faced by Downtown, and the challenge faced by Downtown Indy, Inc., and Downtown stakeholders.

City leaders have earmarked $750,000 for a major effort to improve safety in the Downtown area and to support recovery efforts in and around the Mile Square. On Aug. 19, leaders of Downtown Indy, Inc., were joined by Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department leadership to unveil the initiative.

The $750,000 allocation in Downtown TIF-backed funding was approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission last week and will be administered by the Capital Improvement Board to Downtown Indy, Inc. The funds are mainly aimed at increasing public safety Downtown, through efforts including:

  • Increased foot/bike patrols of off-duty IMPD officers in the Downtown area, tripling the coverage already provided by Downtown Indy, Inc.
  • Launching Downtown Indy, Inc.’s Safety Ambassador program, which will employ civilians and IMPD cadets who will assist Downtown patrons and business owners while serving as extra eyes and ears throughout the Mile Square. The Safety Ambassadors will provide daytime and evening coverage with direct communication to IMPD.
  • Creating a network of 150+ street-level cameras, in partnership with Mile Square businesses, which will be part of IMPD’s existing B.Link program.
  • Addition of mobile cameras positioned in crime hot spots that will be monitored by IMPD.
  • Increased partnership between IMPD’s Downtown District, IMPD’s Narcotics Unit and IMPD’s Homeless Unit to identify areas with increased activity and deploy resources more strategically.

“I am proud that the City of Indianapolis will contribute $750,000 from the Downtown TIF to assist in reopening and recovery efforts focused in and around the Mile Square,” said Mayor Hogsett. “This investment will mean a bolstered public safety infrastructure day and night for Downtown. It will mean an increased investment in non-public safety personnel to serve as wayfinders and ambassadors. It means new technology capabilities to help our law enforcement officers better access and respond in real time to illegal activity. And it comes in the form of more cleaning capacity for common areas; more homeless outreach for effective and people-first solutions.”

Sherry Seiwert, president/CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc., said, “Today’s announcement demonstrates a solutions-based response as we navigate the dramatic impact that COVID-19 is having on our Downtown and community. What inspires me most is the can-do attitude and resilience of Downtown business leaders large and small, along with motivated and passionate residents who seek to position Downtown for recovery and a steady and measured return to our position of strength.”

Tom McGowan, co-chair of Downtown Indy’s Downtown Recovery Committee, agreed, “We thank Mayor Hogsett and his leadership team for joining our efforts to fund immediate and long-lasting improvements to our Downtown, which is an economic driver for the entire county. We now call upon the residents of Indianapolis to believe in their Downtown; to rally and have faith that Downtown will emerge on the other side of this pandemic stronger and more united than ever before,” said McGowan, president & CEO of Kite Realty Group Trust.

Lacy Johnson, Downtown Recovery Committee co-chair and a partner at Ice Miller, LLC, shared McGowan’s plea. “Downtown is open for business and it’s time for our community to support Downtown restaurants, retailers, attractions and other businesses who would normally have been patronized by convention goers, sports fans and a robust Downtown workforce.”

The new allocation joins unprecedented funding and resources made available by the City and CIB that have been directed toward the recovery efforts throughout the city, including: $37 million in loans and grants for businesses and nonprofits affected by the pandemic; $2.7 million in Emergency Solutions grants for rapid re-housing, with $7 million more dedicated; added DPW cleaning crews to combat increased littering; $2 million to secure hotel capacity for those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic; and $1 million in rapid response loans for small businesses in the food and beverage industry.

“Our Recovery Committee remains incredibly focused on additional areas needing immediate response,” Johnson said. “We will continue to seek additional funding to augment outreach for the unhoused, enhance cleanliness, trash removal and beautification, activate our Downtown and to re-shape the narrative that Downtown is ready for your business – all balanced with appropriate COVID-19 precautions.”