Willis focuses on downtown development in Westfield


Westfield Mayor Scott Willis has his eye on development strategies to revitalize the city’s downtown, starting with dividing downtown into quadrants and focusing on growth specific to each area.

Willis’ plans also seek to provide adequate parking, create better walkability to connect Park Street, Grand Junction Plaza and Grand Millennium, and establish neighborhoods with a balance of office, retail, restaurant, and housing options that build community.

Willis will continue to discuss his pillar plan for Westfield during his first town hall meeting, scheduled for March 21.

In that plan, the center of downtown is defined as Ind. 32 and Union Street, branching out into four quadrants.

The southwest quadrant — encompassing Union Square, Grand Junction Plaza, and retail developments on Park and Jersey Streets — has largely been master planned, and the city is working with developers on projects within that area.

union square construction
Construction has been underway at Union Square on Union Street and Ind. 32. Sun King Brewery will be the development’s first tenant. (Photo by Marney Simon)

Union Square got its first tenant this month, with the approval of a development plan to bring Sun King Brewery to the site across from Grand Junction Plaza. The site will include a two-story underground parking garage with mixed use commercial, retail and housing on top.

Construction of Sun King Brewery is expected to begin this summer.

“We’re going to revitalize downtown. We’ve been talking about it for 20 years,” Willis said during a special presentation before the Chamber of Commerce in February. “I would argue that outside of a few restaurants getting renovated and the park that was put in, nothing is happening downtown Westfield. We’ve got the same old buildings, most of the buildings are not even occupied. We have less residents living downtown today than we did 20 years ago. I think it’s hard to have a vibrant city if you don’t have a downtown. We’re going to spend some money, and we’re going to get that downtown revitalized.”

Willis said his administration’s plans are to push toward rejuvenation of old buildings while creating a quaint, eclectic downtown area where people can shop and enjoy a day out.

On his vision for Park Street, Willis said he’d like to see a cobblestone or brick-type street, similar to Main Street in Zionsville, that will be attractive to development for restaurants and shops with the potential to be closed off on evenings or weekends and turned into a pedestrian way.

“Most people are very proud of Park Street, they like going down there. We just need to add some more options. A lot of the land is already being locked up,” Willis said, adding that there are several projects in the early stages of planning, including restaurants, mixed-use developments and possibly a hotel.

Willis said many of the projects are at least six months away from being introduced, but they are exciting changes that the public can be happy about.

“We’re not going to be Carmel, but yes, we’re going to take some pages from their playbook. Because it’s a good playbook,” Willis said. “It’s going to provide a variety of things. It’s going to be a vibrant downtown of mixed use of restaurants and shops.”

The mayor noted that while more than 5 million visitors come to Grand Park, very few people visit Westfield or spend money in the city because there is no real tourism component.

The town hall is set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. March 21 at Wood Wind Golf Club, 2302 W. 161st St.