Developers carving hip neighborhoods out of old industrial spaces is nothing new, but few are as architecturally stunning as the complex that has been transformed into Indianapolis’ new Bottleworks District. Built in 1931, this gleaming white art deco confection was once the world’s largest bottling plant, producing two million bottles of Coca-Cola weekly in its prime.
Later, when cans became king, the complex was used as a garage for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner’s vintage car collection. “The buildings were not in horrible shape,” says Susan Griffin, the vice president of interior design at Hendricks Commercial Properties. “We had the task of preserving what was there and meshing the old and the new, which proved to be a challenge.”
In December, the $300 million district welcomed its first wave of openings, with more still to come. But what really makes this place feel more like a neighborhood than a corporate development is how thoughtfully the tenants have been selected, eschewing international brands for mostly Indy-born businesses and small Midwestern chains.
The Garage Food Hall
The city’s first food hall features more than a dozen vendors, from Brazilian street fare (Gaucho’s Fire) to Asian-fusion tacos (La Chinita Poblana) to a roadside Indy classic open since 1965 (Clancy’s Hamburgers). In addition to food and drink, the space houses Brick & Mortar Barber Shop, Pumkinfish gifts and Becker Supply Co., a Midwestern-tinged outfitter where you can pick up a shirt dedicated to the state’s first national park, Indiana Dunes.
Living Room Theaters
This eight-screen, dine-in theater is all about an indie-meets-Indy vibe. Expect a slate of offbeat foreign and domestic films in a cool space featuring murals by two local artists: one, inspired by the 1927 film Metropolis, painted by William Denton Ray; another featuring a giant King Kong by Pamela Bliss.
Blue Collar Coffee Co.
While you’ll of course find Coca-Cola in the hotel minibar, if you prefer your caffeine in a slightly different liquid form, head down to this new coffee shop, which sources its beans from Ruby Colorful Coffees in rural Wisconsin and whips up clever seasonal concoctions such as blueberry mocha latte and salted caramel & cream cold brew.
Occupying the top two floors of the plant’s administration building, this 139-room hotel features a trove of art deco flourishes that might call to mind a retro soda fountain. The Coca-Cola-themed touches are subtle, including a spiral staircase with handrails and a light fixture designed to evoke the fizzy effervescence of a just-poured glass of soda.
This outpost of a Detroit-based boutique celebrates local and ethical menswear and womens-wear brands, including Richer Poorer, which makes stylish basics from recycled fleece, and Girlfriend Collective, a size-inclusive activewear line using repurposed water bottles and fishing nets. Consider buying the Indianapolis, Indiana, USA jute market bag—proceeds help working mothers in Bangladesh.