Cultural Trail expansion to extend west of White River for first time

A new section of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail – targeted to be complete in 2026 – will for the first time take the walking and biking trail away from Downtown and across the White River.

The $21.2 million expansion announced Tuesday will link the Cultural Trail to the emerging Elanco campus, as the result of a partnership between the City of Indianapolis and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The new segment – dubbed the White River Expansion – will link Downtown’s Wholesale District to Near Westside neighborhoods by adding one mile along South Street, Kentucky Avenue, Henry Street and a Henry Street bridge, which the city will build south of Washington Street starting in 2024. Cultural Trail officials said trail construction on the bridge will begin at that time as well, but the portion of the trail to run on Kentucky Avenue and South Street will not begin until late 2025 and won’t be completed until late 2026. (That timeline could be complicated by recently reported concerns from historians that a considerable number of bodies may remain at the site of the former Greenlawn Cemetery – affected by the proposed construction – although it was previously believed the bodies had been relocated decades ago. Many of those suspected remaining bodies are believed to be African Americans.)

“As a state, we are focused on improving the quality of place of our communities and the quality of life for current and future generations,” said Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers. “The expansion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to the west side of the White River will further expand the walkability of our capital city and connect downtown Indianapolis to Elanco’s new headquarters and the surrounding development that will bring exciting new opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovators, talent and community members for years to come.” 

This is the second expansion in the 10-year history of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Eugene and Marilyn Glick. Construction is under way on segments along Indiana Avenue, 10th Street and South Street. When those and the White River Expansion is complete, the Cultural Trail will stretch nine miles.

“Expanding this internationally recognized linear park to the near west side of Downtown – where the Elanco global headquarters is under way and additional transformative development is being planned – is another testament to the vibrancy of our city,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “The Cultural Trail seamlessly connects neighborhoods, cultural districts, and entertainment amenities all while serving as the Downtown hub for our vast greenway system.”

“We’re excited to welcome this world-class amenity that will provide access for our employees, residents and guests to the east side of White River,” said Dave Kinard, executive vice president of human resources, corporate communications and administration of Elanco Animal Health. 

Elanco, one of the world’s leading animal health companies, is constructing a 220,000-square-foot, six-story office and connected innovation and collaboration buildings occupying 40 acres of the former General Motors Stamping Plant site on the western edge of the White River, creating a greenspace-forward campus expanding White River State Park. 

Funding for the second Cultural Trail expansion includes landscaping, lighting and maintenance of the Trail, as well as additions to its public art collection, which will include an ongoing public involvement. 

Marianne Glick, chair of the Glick Family Foundation, said, “The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is one of the most impactful projects my parents, Gene and Marilyn, supported. It’s inspiring to see the support from the City of Indianapolis and State of Indiana with their significant investment in the Cultural Trail.”

“We are so grateful to our state and city partners who are making the White River expansion of the Cultural Trail possible,” said Kären Haley, executive director of Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc. “In total, the Cultural Trail has received more than $100 million from government, foundation and private donors and supporters. The Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick is a quintessential public-private partnership.”

RENDERING ABOVE: The extension of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail will travel across a new Henry Street bridge to be built beginning next year. The trail’s full extension won’t be complete until late 2026, Cultural Trail officials estimate.