In case you’ve missed it, the Indianapolis tech community is booming.
Indy is one of 20 finalists for Amazon’s second American headquarters, Salesforce’s 2015 acquisition of homegrown startup ExactTarget continues to have ripple effects as former execs seed new startups, talent is flocking to the Midwest after being priced out of the coasts, and out-of-state investors are showing increased interest in both the city and region.
Another indication that Indy’s tech ecosystem is maturing? The creation of 16 Tech, a 60-acre parcel on the west side of the city that is being repurposed as an “innovation-based community for researchers, entrepreneurs, and established companies” that organizers hope will also revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods.
“16 Tech is unique in that it’s less than two miles from downtown and it’s surrounded by water on three sides,” says Bob Coy, 16 Tech’s president and CEO. “It’s also really unusual to find 60 acres in a city’s core.” The site is currently occupied by “underutilized warehouse-type buildings,” he adds.
When it’s completed, 16 Tech will include a 120,000-square-foot anchor building; a 250-unit apartment complex; renovated office space formerly occupied by Citizens Energy Group; restaurant and retail space; and a number of infrastructure improvements, including a central greenway and a new bridge across Fall Creek that will connect the campus with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and local hospitals.
“The impetus behind 16 Tech is that across the world, innovation is increasingly taking place in urban cores adjacent to powerful assets, like research universities,” Coy says.
There are three things driving this trend, he says: Younger, educated people that want to live in cities, inspiring companies to open downtown offices as a talent attraction tool; companies that want to be located in areas that facilitate cross-pollination and spark innovation; and companies that are relocating from suburbs to city centers to enhance their brands.
“We’re building on these trends and leveraging our proximity to Indiana University, Purdue University, and large companies like Eli Lilly,” Coy explains.
In March, 16 Tech announced that it had received a $38 million grant from Lilly to fund the initial stage of development, and that Indy-based commercial real estate firm Browning will spend more than $120 million to build three new buildings and renovate an existing facility on 11 acres of city-owned property along Waterway Boulevard. In May, Emily Krueger, former vice president of administration for LDI, was hired to be 16 Tech’s chief operating officer.
As part of the Lilly grant, 16 Tech will establish a Community Investment Fund to bolster STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) opportunities for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, which Coy describes as being low-income. The fund has been seeded with $3 million from the city, and 16 Tech tenants will be assessed 20 cents per square foot to sustain it.
Construction on the anchor building will begin in the fall, Coy says, and will eventually house the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, “a larger corporate association that serves a number of different tech sectors and will bring a lot of corporate activity to the area,” and space that will be used by IU’s medical school and bioinformatics program.
16 Tech’s anchor building will be open for business by 2020 and within 10 years, Coy expects the campus will employ about 9,000 people. “We’re in the building stage and creating a community—we want it to be a one-stop shop to access a variety of resources,” he says.