As owner’s representatives, CORE Planning Strategies has the opportunity to guide organizations through exciting community transformations. One such experience is work at the 16 Tech Innovation District, a 50-acre, mixed-use downtown community dedicated to world-changing innovation and commercial breakthroughs. Bob Coy, president and CEO of 16 Tech Community Corporation (the nonprofit overseeing the district’s development) and Emily Krueger, chief operating officer, recently shared their perspectives on the development of 16 Tech, upcoming opportunities, lessons learned, and a couple of fun facts, too.
Tell our readers about the transformation happening at 16 Tech and how it will impact our central Indiana community.
BC: The site is special because we’re close to central Indiana’s top healthcare, academic, and corporate institutions and have access to global corporations in downtown Indianapolis. Those connections will help us create a new district that will eventually employ 3,000 people in tech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. 16 Tech will become a mixed-use neighborhood with labs, offices, spaces for both large corporations and startups, and university faculty, all within an innovative and collaborative community.
What are some of the latest developments within the district that you’re most excited about?
EK: In the near term, I’m excited for HqO—our innovation hub—to open. I can’t wait to see people working in the building, creating things in the makerspace, and gathering in the artisan marketplace. A big part of that is seeing not just the physical space come to life, but the collaboration and coordination between groups. I’m also excited about the 16 Tech Bridge that will span Fall Creek. We’re looking forward to announcing our design team and beginning the design process and community engagement. Next year we’ll complete the design, begin construction in 2022 and plan to open the bridge in late 2023. Getting that project off the ground and seeing it come to life will be a real thrill over the next three years.
BC: It’s exciting to see the products we’re able to offer at 16 Tech, including flexible office space, corporate offices and suites, and shared labs for life science startups—the latter of which is a first for Indianapolis. There also will be an artisan marketplace (The AMP) that will feature a mix of restaurants and vendors operating out of brightly colored shipping containers, and a makerspace, Machyne. Innovation hubs similar to HqO have helped to accelerate the development of other innovation districts across the country.
What future development opportunities exist at 16 Tech for developers and architecture, engineering and construction firms?
BC: We plan to construct a parking garage next year that will support office workers in our first office buildings as well as our first residential development, and there will be opportunities for contractors to bid on the construction of these projects. We also will be looking for construction partners to support additional public infrastructure and roadway projects, including the bridge. Eight additional sites will be available for development over the next few years, including a hotel site, and we look forward to meeting with developers interested in these opportunities.
What are some of the lessons learned or takeaways you have experienced so far in developing 16 Tech?
BC: A project like 16 Tech requires broad-based community support and a strong management team. Support from IU, IUPUI, Citizens Energy Group, IU Health, Health and Hospital Corporation, and the City of Indianapolis was necessary to assemble the land for the 50-acre site. The City is providing up to $55 million for the infrastructure work necessary to make the sites developable. The State of Indiana provided tax credits to convert the former headquarters of the Indianapolis Water Company into our innovation hub, with additional funds from the federal New Markets Tax Credit program and a loan from Lake City Bank. The Lilly Endowment provided $38M for infrastructure projects including the bridge across Fall Creek in addition to operating funds, and the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation awarded us a $2 million in funding to help cover operating expenses.
Another takeaway is the unique alliance of CICP leadership joining hands with the neighborhoods around 16 Tech to convince the City-County Council in 2015 to provide financial support. A core mission of 16 Tech is to work with the adjacent neighborhoods to support education, workforce development, and neighborhood improvement projects that will benefit nearby residents.
It’s also important to have good development partners who are committed to meeting and exceeding diversity goals. Browning set a new standard because slightly more than 50% of contracts on Building 1 went to XBE firms.
EK: From our funders to the design and construction partners to our community partners, the importance of strong partnerships is definitely a key takeaway. We’ve also been able to make progress by being flexible. In many ways, 16 Tech Community Corporation is a startup. A big part of our value proposition as non-profit is to be able to pivot and do things in a way that a traditional developer might not be able to do.
How has the partnership with CORE enhanced the development process at 16 Tech?
EK: We’re thrilled to have CORE as a partner—they’re a huge asset to our team and have set a high standard. In addition to her expertise as an architect, Deb brings incredible drive and organization as a project manager. For the innovation hub, we had to adjust our design schedule to meet funding timelines, and having a strong project manager who could rise to the occasion was key. Another strength is CORE’s ability to coordinate with dependent projects and define scope. We have a variety of infrastructure projects happening at the same time as our built environment projects. Deb has shown to be adept at being able to coordinate with teams from other projects on site.
BC: Deb and her team are calm, always on top of things, and a pleasure to work with. I don’t lose any sleep knowing Deb is our representative.
What are fun facts that most people don’t know about you both?
BC: I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon nine times.
EK: I love to travel and have been to more than 30 countries – my last big trip was to India at the end of 2019. I also had a brief stint as a poster child for a public safety campaign for car seats.