INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Cultural Trail is more than a connection to neighborhoods, cultural districts, and entertainment options.
According to a new study by the IU Public Policy Institute, it also increases property values.
The report is the first time the economic impact of the trail was studied.
It was built for a mere $64 million, and Thursday it was learned the property values around it have increased by $1 billion.
“It’s great for the city, the people, it’s great for everything,” said Kelly Joerns, who was having a coffee along the trail.
“This is super cool, we don’t have anything like this back home,” said Reid Klei, who is in town for business.
“The Cultural Trail really started as a simple idea: lets do a Monon-like version to connect the new cultural districts,” said Brian Payne, the CEO and President of the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The Foundation did the fundraising to build the trail.
It opened in May of 2013 using federal and private dollars.
“This particular street, Virginia Avenue was really, five or six years ago, was just blighted,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “Now look at the restaurants, look at the residential that’s along it. It makes a difference.”
Mexican restaurant Tortas Guicho has been serving tacos and sandwiches since before the trail was here.
“I was here six years ago and I can tell you, it was dark and scary,” said Felipe Zarco, the owner of the restaurant. “Right now, it’s beautiful, new people.”
According to the report, 95 percent of those questioned say they felt safe on the eight mile trail. And those who use it for more than exercise and recreation are spending $53 dollars per visit.
“Businesses have chosen to be here. That’s why you see all of this,” said Mayor Ballard.
“One of the things the businesses told us was one of the reasons they wanted to locate here is because of the trail,” said Mark Lawrance, the director of the IU Public Policy Institute.
“It’s what we expected from the beginning,” said Ed Battista, the owner of Bluebeard Restaurant. “But I think a lot of the neighborhood has been surprised that it’s had the impact that it’s had.
Part of the reason why the report is so significant is because the additional $1 billion in property values could be a windfall for the city. It’s important to note, no local tax dollars were spent to build the Cultural Trail.