Indianapolis couldn't afford to tear down the old city market. So a bunch of non-profits turned it into a work space and farmers' market.
If Indianapolis officials had had a spare $800,000 in their coffers a few years ago, the west wing of the Indianapolis City Market would have been demolished.
But a shortage of funds led officials to think about other uses. Now, the historic space houses nine non-profits that benefit from the downtown location and close proximity.
The Platform, as the wing is now known, is the brainchild of Bill Taft, the executive director of LISC Indianapolis, which focuses on neighborhood development. He was looking for new office space nearby other organizations working on the same issues. The city "could no longer afford to heat and maintain it," says Taft, a longtime neighborhood development guru. "We said, we’ll pay the operating costs if you spend the money you were going to spend on demolition and spend it on renovation instead."
The Platform, which opened late last year, is adjacent to the City Market, where vendors sell everything from chocolate and beer to pastries and produce, so it made sense for several food-related non-profits to set up shop there. They include the Indy Winters Farmer Market, which rolls away the Platform’s conference tables and chairs each weekend to sell winter vegetables and artisanal items.
Other non-profits work on economic and neighborhood development, education and health. The building is across from City Hall and about six blocks from the Indiana State House, and when public officials need to reach a lot of agencies at once, the Platform offers a one-stop shop for networking.
“It’s much easier to pull everyone together in a visible, central place,” says Taft, recalling a recent visit from federal officials working with the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. “It encourages synergy on many different levels, from finances to projects to relationships.”