WESTFIELD — The City of Westfield has been growing at a rapid pace ever since the completion of the Grand Park Sports Campus.
Soon, another multi-million dollar investment hopes to rival its grandeur.
Westfield Mayor Andy Cook says Grand Junction Plaza will add to the city’s growing vibrancy — once it’s finished.
“It will be a most unique urban park,” Mayor Cook said. “Really trying to capitalize on a couple of our unique assets, and that is right through the middle of our downtown. We’ll have a greenway. It’s got a little bit of something for everybody.”
Westfield’s Grand Junction Plaza, named so because it will serve as a confluence point of two streams and six trails, contains a gathering pavilion with concession stand which will also serve as a ice skate rental facility in the winter, complete with a skating rink, an amphitheater with lawn space, public restrooms and a playground.
Even before the project is complete, residents are concerned about traffic and lack of parking.
“Parking and traffic are major concerns, and what I always tell our people here is, you give me a traffic problem, and we will work to solve it,” Mayor Cook said. “We’ll also build a joint city, private parking garage in the middle of our future developments.”
Working with the Indiana Department of Transportation, Westfield will widen the frequently congested State Road 32. That project will begin in a few years, but in the meantime, the city plans to extend an existing street to combat rising traffic needs — Jersey Street.
“It will run along Grassy Branch and will ease some traffic concern,” Mayor Cook said. “We’ll also have new parking spaces built in across the street from Grand Junction Plaza very soon. We’re trying to utilize what we already have in a lot of ways, keep a lot of our buildings.”
The plans don’t include several buildings on State Road 32, including Wolfies Grill, which has spent the last five years growing with the city.
“When we were first here it was small families, you know, the culture was still very much a community, very small, and then it just blew up — Grand Park, a lot of these new restaurants and things like that,” said Alec Wolf, area director for Wolfies Grill. “This building, it used to be a bank. We would always be open for change, you know? I think it’s important to have that mindset to kinda always say, hey we’re gonna grow, we’re gonna adapt, we’re gonna move, and it would be a great opportunity to have kinda a clean slate.”
Wolf says the building they currently operate in will be torn down, and the new plan may not include his restaurant.
“It’s the high-rise apartments, restaurant row beneath. That’s kinda their vision for this,” Wolf said. “We’re excited about the growth. We see it on both sides, and quite frankly, it’s been only positive for us. So while we’re really excited about the opportunities here, we’re just not sure yet because we like to go at our own pace.”
Mayor Cook says inspiration for the mixed-use style buildings have been drawn from a nearby neighbor, with slight differences.
“It’ll be a little different. It won’t necessarily look like some of our neighboring cities. Love that kind of thing, but our uniqueness will be the buildings will not be massive,” Mayor Cook said. “It’ll be a urban, mixed use, retail on the bottom, condos and apartments on top, so similar, but I think Carmel’s been rather successful, hasn’t it?”
Investing millions into the city with the motto: if you build it Grand, they will come.
“We hit on that word somehow. No, but it all begins to fit together. Grand Junction Plaza and Grand Park, they’ll compliment each other greatly,” Mayor Cook said. “A lot of million dollars are being invested in downtown, but you must invest.
“You have to move forward or you’re going backwards, and it is my charge to show a return on that investment, just like we’ve done with Grand Park. We invested $85 million, and we have had millions and millions of dollars of private investment here in Westfield that would not be here if it weren’t for Grand Park, and the very same thing is going to happen with this investment here.”
Grand Junction Plaza is scheduled to open this December, though it won’t be fully completed until next spring. Ground could break for the new parking garage and mixed-use apartment building yet this year.
“We’ve been the fastest growing city in Indiana for several years so we must be doing something right,” Mayor Cook said.