Jan 2, 2024 - News

The stories that will shape Indianapolis in 2024

Photo Illustration of Taylor Swift with gemstone and letter bead overlays

Photo Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios; Photo: Octavio Jones, Terence Rushin/Getty Images

New years are always flush with promise — a clean slate, a fresh start, new year, new you — but 2024 could truly be a transformational one for Indianapolis as it's thrust into the national spotlight multiple times.

The big picture: Mayor Joe Hogsett begins his third term in the midst of a downtown overhaul, while forces near and far — a gubernatorial election, economic conditions, stubborn public safety problems — could help or (more likely) hurt those plans.

Here are 10 stories we're watching this year:

👮 New IMPD chief to tackle public safety

Hogsett is looking for a new Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department chief after Randal Taylor, who held the position for four years, stepped down last week.

State of play: The move comes after Indianapolis hit a record number of youth homicides and saw a dramatic increase in the number of officer-involved shootings last year.

The latest: The city recorded 171 criminal homicides last year — the lowest number since 2019.

🏀 All-Star Game comes to town

Indy's first turn in the national spotlight will be here next month when some of sports' and pop culture's biggest stars come to town.

What's happening: The NBA All-Star Game will be played Feb. 18 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

  • The weekend of events includes a celebrity game and Rising Stars game for top rookies and up-and-coming second-year players on Feb. 16 and All-Star Saturday Night, featuring skills, 3-point and dunk contests on Feb. 17.

🏗️ Downtown development

This could be the year we look back on as the start of a downtown renaissance.

Driving the change: Several massive redevelopment projects are slated to either start or finish this year, including the closure of City Market for redevelopment of the block starting March 1. We'll miss your warm glow, Gold Building.

  • An expansion of the Cultural Trail along Indiana Avenue and South Street is expected to be completed in the spring and work will begin on a second phase along the White River.
  • The trail will connect to work underway on opposite sides of the river — the Eleven Park project on the east and new Elanco headquarters to the west — plus, a new bridge will be built between the two.
  • Construction could begin late in the year on the Old City Hall property, slated to become a boutique hotel, apartments, condos and art gallery with an adjoining tower.

Plus: Construction continues on the massive new IU Health hospital, the Pan Am Plaza hotel, the second phase of the Bottleworks district and the Near North Mass neighborhood.

Yes, but: Deals fall through. Plans change. Ambitions fall short. Challenges, both predictable (like human remains being discovered at the Eleven Park site) and otherwise, arise.

🏘️ Fingers crossed for a housing market recovery

The last few years have upended the housing market, driving prices up and supply way down — crippling would-be buyers in Indy and across the country.

Why it matters: Many homeowners and wannabe buyers stood still in 2023, waiting for mortgage rates to drop before they made a move.

The big picture: If the economy is steady, rates could land around 6%. If the economy stumbles, mortgage rates could fall more significantly.

The bottom line: It will take a significant shift in both rates and housing stock to make a marked difference in activity this year.

🌘 Total eclipse of the heart(land)

If April 8 isn't blacked out on your calendar yet, it should be.

What's happening: Thousands will trek to Indianapolis as a total solar eclipse plunges us into temporary darkness.

  • Unless science dramatically increases life expectancy in the next few decades, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a total solar eclipse in Indy.
  • The next time we'll be in the path of totality is the year 2153.

💔 RIP, IUPUI

The split between IU and Purdue in Indianapolis becomes official July 1.

Context: If you're thinking, "Hasn't this happened already?" you're not exactly wrong. IU and Purdue announced their conscious uncoupling back in 2022, then spent the last 18 months planning for the eventuality.

  • The soon-to-be separate institutions — IU Indianapolis and Purdue in Indianapolis — have each made major moves that may or may not be about looking like the winner of the breakup.
  • Whatever the motivation, the real winner is the city, which is sure to benefit from the influx of new students and investment.

🏫 IPS Rebuilding Stronger takes effect

There's a reshaping happening at the K-12 level, too, as the city's largest school system starts the 2024-25 year on Aug. 1 with new grade configurations and enrollment policies for its K-8 schools.

  • These are the next pieces of the effort that began with school closures last summer.

What we're watching: Indianapolis Public Schools' "Rebuilding Stronger" initiative hasn't been entirely welcomed, but its potential to better serve the Black and brown kids that make up the majority of the student body is something that, if successful, could change a generation of lives.

🌊 LEAP district's future hangs on water study

A nine-month moratorium designed to block high volumes of water being piped from Lafayette to Boone County's LEAP District expires in November.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Finance Authority will be conducting a study to look at how much water can sustainably be moved from the Lafayette aquifers to the project site.

Catch up fast: The controversial project has pitted residents against local governments, local governing bodies against each other and the state against local governments.

  • The district will be a 9,000-acre "hub of innovation."
  • Drugmaker Eli Lilly was the first to announce a development on the site.

🪩 Swiftie-anapolis

Thousands will descend upon the city as Taylor Swift brings her epic "The Eras Tour" to Lucas Oil Stadium for three sold-out shows, Nov. 1-3.

Why it matters: It's Taylor Swift.

🗳️ Decision 2024

We wouldn't be surprised if they're still sweeping glitter off the seats at Lucas Oil when voters head to the polls Nov. 5.

What's happening: The presidential race will be on the ballot, of course, but voters will also be choosing Indiana's next governor and a U.S. senator.

Catch up fast: Gov. Eric Holcomb is term-limited and five well-funded candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in what's expected to be the most expensive gubernatorial election in state history.

  • The winner of the Republican primary is expected to face former state superintendent of public instruction Jennifer McCormick, now running as a Democrat, and Libertarian Donald Rainwater.

Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks is the frontrunner to become our next senator, hoping to fill the seat Mike Braun is vacating to run for governor, but he faces challenges from the left and the right.

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