Downtown Indianapolis' sluggish post-COVID recovery
Downtown Indianapolis' foot traffic is still lagging after the pandemic — it ranked 48th among major metros this spring.
Why it matters: Downtown is the beating economic heart of Indianapolis, funneling revenue into city coffers via taxes and more.
Of note: For this analysis, "downtown" is defined as areas of a given city with the highest employment density.
- Indy's data used just the 46204 ZIP code, which excludes some areas traditionally thought of as part of the downtown core.
Flashback: A previous analysis of downtown activity between December and February by the same researchers also found Indianapolis lagging behind its counterparts.
- Researchers noted downtowns that were slower to recover were typically older, denser areas reliant on professional or tech workers located within large metros where commuters relied heavily on cars for transportation.
- Taylor Schaffer, president and CEO of Downtown Indy Inc., told Axios at the time that trend has rung true for Indianapolis — but highlighted that evening and weekend activity has picked up in town.
The big picture: Several U.S. cities with diverse downtowns — meaning a healthy mixture of office space, housing, attractions and so on — have nearly returned to, or even exceeded, their pre-pandemic foot traffic rates.
- San Diego, for example, is at 88% of its pre-pandemic foot traffic. Salt Lake City's post-pandemic foot traffic rate — nearly 140% of 2019 levels — is particularly remarkable.
Meanwhile, cities with downtowns that almost exclusively catered to office workers are still struggling to recover in the remote and hybrid work era.
- New York is at 67% of pre-pandemic foot traffic, and San Francisco is at a measly 32%.
What we're watching: The experimental park on Monument Circle has already attracted thousands of visitors to downtown. Foot traffic on the circle spiked 18% from July 11-22 over the same period a year earlier, per Downtown Indy.
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