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Groundbreaking for Fort Ben Branch Library Draws Community

Groundbreaking for Fort Ben Branch Library Draws Community
Groundbreaking for Fort Ben Branch Library Draws Community

The Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL) broke ground on the new Fort Ben Branch, drawing a robust crowd of community leaders, patrons, and stakeholders. The 22,000 square foot Branch, located at 9330 East 56th Street, will fill a service area gap on the far east side between the existing Lawrence and Warren Branches.

“If the crowd that came out to the groundbreaking is any indication, this community is eager to see this project come to fruition,” said Shelby Peak, who will serve as Fort Ben’s branch manager. “I am excited to serve this historic community.”

The Fort Ben Branch will provide easy access to Library services and collections due to its location in a high-traffic community with access to public transportation. It will include community meeting spaces and study rooms, beautiful landscaping components, and walk-up, bike-up, and drive-up material return locations. Its roof-top solar photovoltaic system will provide 80% of the building's electricity needs.

The Library was envisioned as part of a redevelopment plan since the land was decommissioned and transitioned from the U.S. military to the City of Indianapolis in the 1990s. Originally slotted to open in 2021, the project was delayed due to rising construction costs associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, including increased labor costs and inflation of construction materials prices.

“One of The Library’s goals is to ensure we meet the needs of every neighborhood in our city,” said Mike Coghlan, capital projects manager with IndyPL. “Before breaking ground on this Branch, the architects lead three virtual community input meetings to learn what services, amenities, and priorities meant the most to patrons in the surrounding community. We’ve incorporated that feedback. It will be a beautiful, public space.”

The $14.3 million project is funded by bonds approved by the Indianapolis City-County Council that will be assessed without any increase in IndyPL’s current debt service tax rate. This Branch will be located in the area being developed by the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority. Learn more about the Fort Benjamin Harrison Historic District here.

Construction manager The Skillman/Davis Team and architect Ratio Architects are behind this project. A grand opening is anticipated for Summer 2023.