Hendricks County is one of the state’s fastest growing counties, mostly because Marion County/Indianapolis is its neighbor to the east. But the county’s two largest towns are joining in the downtown revitalization boom to keep the young local folks at home.
Both Brownsburg, along the I-74 spoke out of Indianapolis, and Plainfield, along the I-70 spoke, are embracing projects to enhance their older traditional downtowns and turning them back into destinations for shopping, dining, entertainment and recreation.
In the past 30 years, Brownsburg has more than tripled in population, going from just over 7,600 in 1990 to approaching 28,000 today. Yet in that time, the downtown remained confined and separate from development to the north near I-74.
About a decade ago, a $90 million public-private mixed-used development began transforming an area a couple of blocks north of its downtown into a pedestrian-friendly economic center. New and much-needed commercial, residential and retail options were created along with restaurants and bars that will, it’s hoped, transform into a vibrant downtown atmosphere.
To the south, Plainfield, the largest community in the county, has begun a similar redevelopment.
In 2016, the town completed a 12-month comprehensive planning process for the entire community. That study evaluated land use, zoning, infrastructure, and governance across all areas of Plainfield. One of the recommendations was to renew the downtown as a civic and cultural hub.
A multi-level parking structure, nearing completion, is the first public piece. The parking structure will include 250 parking spaces for businesses and entertainment in downtown Plainfield. Just up the street, a private, $21 million mixed-use development, which will include 117 apartments, commercial space and 150 parking spaces, is under construction, too.
Meanwhile, the economic engine of Plainfield continues to be the sprawling warehouse district on the east side of town, close to the Indianapolis International Airport, that boasts approximately 45 million square feet of space. Plainfield provides roughly half of all warehouse jobs in central Indiana.
Named for: William Hendricks, third governor of Indiana, 1822-1825.
Population: 167,000 (2018 estimate)
County seat: Danville