Cultural Trail to Expand

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick will undergo its first major expansion in its almost ten-year history, adding new stretches to the internationally recognized linear park and urban bike and pedestrian path along South Street and Indiana Avenue.

The Cultural Trail also announced that Lilly Endowment Inc. has made a $20 million grant to help fund the project in recognition of the Trail’s extensive cultural, economic and community benefits. This landmark gift joins a prior $5 million commitment to the expansion by the City of Indianapolis.

The South Street expansion will bring the Indianapolis Cultural Trail from New Jersey Street to Capitol Avenue, improving access in a thriving stretch of downtown that includes Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center and a growing residential hub anchored by CityWay. The new section will also create a beautiful connection between downtown and near Southside neighborhoods and Stadium Village area.

The Indiana Avenue expansion will begin at the Madam Walker Legacy Center on Indiana Avenue and continue north to 10th Street. It will then head west on 10th Street to the planned bridge leading to the 16 Tech Innovation district, which is anticipated to become a vibrant

live-work-play community. Importantly, the Indiana Avenue segment will tie in historically and culturally significant neighborhoods and cultural destinations that have been disconnected from downtown and better unify Indianapolis’ hospital and university campuses with the heart of the city.

“From its inception, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick has been a shining example of how public-private partnerships enhance quality of life for our residents. The Cultural Trail has moved our city forward by integrating cultural and economic development with opportunities to improve community health and vitality,” said Kären Haley executive director, Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. “We are grateful to Lilly Endowment, along with other generous supporters, for helping us realize our vision to expand the Trail to better connect our city’s unique cultural destinations and neighborhoods.”

The expansion is estimated to cost $30 million, which includes funding for the Cultural Trail’s endowment to maintain the Trail for years to come and funding to enhance the Trail’s art collection and public art program. With the Lilly Endowment grant, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail has received more than $26 million in gifts and commitments for this effort.

“We are impressed with the ways that the Cultural Trail has helped connect people and neighborhoods to each other and to downtown Indianapolis,” said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development. “With these new strategic expansions, significant assets in our city – including Indiana Avenue, Madam Walker Legacy Center and 16 Tech and Lucas Oil Stadium and Eli Lilly and Company – will now be beautifully linked to the Trail.”

In addition to the Lilly Endowment grant, Anthem Foundation in 2019 announced a $1 million grant to the Cultural Trail, a portion of which will be dedicated to the Cultural Trail’s maintenance endowment included with the expansion.

“We are proud to join our city’s generous philanthropic and corporate community in this incredible public private partnership. By expanding the Cultural Trail, we are able to increase the quality of life for our residents while uplifting the economic future of Indianapolis neighborhoods,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “The Cultural Trail’s expansion along Indiana Ave, 10th Street, and South Street is an exciting opportunity to enhance our city, strengthen our arts and culture efforts, and illustrate that Indianapolis is an amazing place to live, work and play.”

Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc. will launch a fundraising campaign to raise additional philanthropic funding from individuals, foundations and corporations. The expansion will add two miles of pathway to the iconic eight-mile Cultural Trail, which attracts more than 1 million users annually. Design for the expansion will take place in 2020 with construction anticipated to begin in 2021.

A 2015 report by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute found the Indianapolis Cultural Trail generated significant public benefits, including an increase of $1 billion in assessed property values for properties on or within one block, increased consumer activity, and an enhanced sense of safety downtown. The Cultural Trail has been heralded by The New York Times as “putting Indianapolis on the map as a place to see bold innovation,” hosts popular programs such as the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, offers free access to engaging works of outdoor art and includes a horticulture program which includes flourishing urban gardens along the Trail’s path.

“The Madam Walker Legacy Center exists to advance the legacy of our namesake, Madame CJ Walker, through art, entertainment, cultural education, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship and civic engagement,” said Judith Thomas, President and CEO of the Madam Walker Legacy Center. “The expansion of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail along Indiana Avenue to the Madam Walker Legacy Center will help us fulfill our mission by connecting and bringing people to our physical location so that they too can learn about and experience Madam Walker’s legacy. We also see this expansion as a critical step in the process to revitalize the Indiana Ave cultural district which is an important asset for our city’s cultural history. “