INDIANAPOLIS – Part of Monument Circle is now closed to drivers in what city officials are calling an effort to make downtown more pedestrian friendly.

The southwest quadrant of Monument Circle is transforming into a pedestrian-only space.

The city is setting up what they are calling a mini-park to host food, games and music. It’s also a test run to potentially close all of the monument circle to traffic.

“You can expect something to be happening every single day,” said Rusty Carr, director of Indianapolis Metropolitan Development.

Starting Saturday, July 8, SPARK on the Circle is giving residents exactly what they have asked for, according to city officials.  

“Carefree spaces to enjoy similar to during COVID-19, they wanted places to eat and drink and enjoy outside in the shade,” said Carr.

The mini park will host different events from 11 a.m. to dark throughout the year. 

“It hopes to grow foot traffic and give people a reason to stay downtown and not just come down for an event and leave,” said Taylor Schaffer, president and CEO of Downtown Indy Inc.

The city has been working and tweaking the plan since 2015. They say last year was the real test when Circle SPARK Fest shut down Monument Circle for a weekend. 

“What we saw is that there really wasn’t a whole bunch of traffic backed up and people getting upset,” said Jim Walker, executive director of Big Car Collaborative.

“It is really not a place that is meant for everybody to drive through and get somewhere. It is a destination location,” said Walker.

Officers will be there 24-7 making sure everyone stays safe.

“I think another public safety strategy is to bring positive activity to spaces. What we know is that we have a lot of people hanging out doing fun activities or doing good things, it deters the negative activity,” said Carr.

The city will be working over the next 36 hours planting trees, installing tables, and making final touches in preparation for the opening. 

“This has been designed to give this park-like nature feel right in the heart of the city,” said Schaffer.

The soft opening is taking place this Saturday, July 8, followed by a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, July 11. The new space is here to stay until November.