Chelsea Schneider, Aim Municipal Innovations Specialist

Noblesville is opening Federal Hill Commons this spring, a new park that will host the city’s popular farmers market and serve as a venue for Shakespeare in the Park, concerts and special events.

The park’s location is designed to extend the city’s downtown across the White River near a growing trail system. And the park is blocks away from a technology firm’s new headquarters, with its leaders expressing the project played a role in their decision to stay and grow in Noblesville.

Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear envisions the park as a place to relax on a lunch break, read a book and catch a show.

“The idea of the park is just a space to hang out,” Ditslear said. “We know that sense of place is important. It is west of the river, west of our downtown, and our effort is to extend in people’s minds as well as physically Noblesville to the west side of the river and make that part of downtown.”

The park features an amphitheater and a playground, and its name is a nod to Noblesville’s history. The area of the city, known as Federal Hill, dates back to the 1800s.

City officials expect the park to facilitate economic development for the west side of downtown. Estimates show the city will garner between $1.3 million and $1.6 million a year in new revenue from growth stimulated by the project.

“We didn’t look at it as just a park,” said Judi Johnson, the city’s director of economic development. “We looked at it as an economic development driver. Urban redevelopment from a business perspective is really important today.”

Parks, trails and other quality of life projects are vital in business attraction because amenities help with employee retention, Johnson said. When BlueSky Technology Partners looked to expand, they had several choices but liked Noblesville’s investment in the park. Now, the company is investing $5.5 million in a new building and plans to double its workforce.

“They wanted a cool urban vibe,” Johnson said.

Among other projects, Noblesville is undertaking an initiative to enhance alleys and its commitment to the arts earned the city a Cultural Arts District designation from the state.

As for the park, Federal Hill Commons is set to open in April on the northwest corner of the intersection of Indiana 19 and Indiana 32.

Soon after, Ditslear hopes residents, employees and visitors alike say: “I’m going to The Hill.”

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