Officials, small business owners, look to future during 2021 State of Downtown

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and other community leaders had an open conversation Thursday about the recovery of downtown Indy during the 2021 State of Downtown.

The area is still in recovery from the pandemic, but they say the focus today is on the future.

“It always pushes us to think a little bit more about how we can continue to grow our downtown, it’s value and vibrancy,” explained Sherry Seiwert, the president of Downtown Indy Inc.

Several topics were discussed, including the NCAA tournament and its economic impact, upcoming conventions and events and allowing the workforce to come back downtown.

There are some signs of recovery.

Seiwert says some vacant spaces have already been leased, condo sales are on the rise and over this past weekend. Mass Ave. and other downtown restaurants were busy with customers.

Another sign of excitement is small businesses opening up in creative places like the Artisan Marketplace at 16 Tech (AMP) along Waterway Blvd.

The AMP is an expansive marketplace committed to showcasing local culinary business owners and other vendors.

One of those businesses, Tinker Coffee Co., has had success in the downtown area despite the pandemic, opening two new locations within the last month. Their shipping container shop in The AMP is the latest.

“It’s been really exciting. We’re happy to have a cool spot like this where there’s gonna be so many great vendors,” Co-Founder of Tinker Coffee Co. Stephen Hall said. “Think back to, it seems so long ago now, but think back to early 2020. Just how exciting things were in Indy, and that excitement is still here. We just had an interruption period.”

That “interruption period” caused by COVID-19 has not slowed the brewing process at Tinker. If anything, it’s percolated it more.

“We really transitioned from a wholesale coffee company to a direct to consumer brand, and through that switch we were able to maintain, kind of, our trajectory thankfully, which was really lucky for us, you know.

But now we are entering more of a retail phase for our company, which was always kind of in our vision, just so happened that the timing is, you know, coming out of a pandemic,” Hall said. “There’s definitely still a lot of excitement about people kind of feeling ready, feeling like, they’ve either been vaccinated or they’re planning to get vaccinated, feeling comfortable getting out a little bit more.

“There’s definitely excitement and momentum for people to kind of come out of this and get back to life as usual.”

Another business hoping to capitalize on that momentum is Joanna and Mark Wilson’s Punkin’s Pies, also located at The AMP.

“This is my first time opening up a business, but I am really excited. I feel we will have a lot of success here,” Wilson said. “Hey this is Indianapolis. It’s where we’re born and raised, and truly it’s a booming place right now. Actually, things are opening up more, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Vendors at The AMP marketplace are opening in phases of sorts. Tinker Coffee Co. celebrated their opening Tuesday. They’ll be open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with plans to expand their hours soon.

Punkin’s Pies and other businesses in The AMP hope to be open sometime before the Indianapolis 500 rolls into town next month.

Click here for the Downtown Indy, Inc. 2021 Community Report.

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