09 Feb CCIC in Indy is The House the Booze Built – But It’s So Much More
It seems like we drive all the time. We drive to go to the gym, then to meet friends for a beer, then to get some food, then to find some entertainment for the evening. What if you could do all that at one place – what an adult playground that would be.
In Indianapolis, there is one place that offers all this in one place – a brewery, cidery, meadery, distillery plus places to view art, work out, get something to eat, and take a class. It’s called the Circle City Industrial Complex (CCIC) and it’s a place that Walter and I frequent often. Don’t live in Indy? It’s worth the trip.
History – CCIC started as part of the automobile industry in Indianapolis. Louis Schwitzer won the very first car race at the IMS, but his bigger claim to fame was the improvements he made in several automobile components, including hydraulics, cooling systems, and especially turbochargers. He built the original Schwitzer-Cummins factory in 1918 to make turbochargers on the southwest end of the site, just across the parking lot from what is now Centerpoint Brewing.
They quickly outgrew that space, and added factory space to the northeast, with the final building taking up more than 541,000 sq. ft. They thrived for decades making auto fans and turbochargers, as a well as airplane and warcraft components. In 1992 Schwitzer was purchased by Borg-Warner. They moved production to other sites and sold the building. Several owners tried to convert the building into usable space, but it wasn’t until Teagen Development bought the entire property in 2015 that progress was made – and such progress as no one imagined.
I talked to Rachel Ferguson, the Vice President of Teagen Development, about the changes that took place to make the CCIC what it is today, an entertainment, art, and food mecca. Rachel joined Larry Jones and Teagen in 2014 as the purchase of CCIC approached, adding a half million sq. ft. to their portfolio meant they needed more manpower. Rachel handles the leasing and property management amongst many other things (including locksmith), so I thought it was appropriate to ask her about the growth of the project.
Craft Beverages – When Teagen took over and named the building the CCIC there were just 37 tenants, leaks in the roof, and piles and piles of discarded appliances and metal. The building had good bones, but boy did it need work.
Rachel says she thinks of CCIC as the house that booze built, and it is completely appropriate to do so. Alcohol is the reason that Walter and I are there several times a month. Centerpoint Brewing was the first new tenant of the northern portion of the building, after they completely cleaned out and renovated their 17,000 sq. ft. The success of the brewery during their first couple of years meant that they needed every sq. ft. of that space, and they continue to reconfigure so as to maximize their taproom and production space.
In 2016, 8th Day Distillery moved into a 7,000 sq. ft. space to the north of Centerpoint and they serve craft cocktails and shots of their spirits there Thursdays-Saturdays. Matt and Jaime Lamping and their team produce fine gins, rums, and whiskeys in a friendly and fun atmosphere. They are getting ready to host a four course meal and cocktail pairing on site, so they are definitely expanding their range.
New Day Craft already had their production facility at CCIC when Teagen took over building ownership in 2015, but their presence as lately taken on more significance. Fountain Square Brewing bought New Day Craft in 2018 and closed the tasting room in Fountain Square in 2019, temporarily serving New Day beverages out of their taproom. However, it was always planned for New Day to have their own tasting room at the CCIC, and it opened in September of this year.
All of the above means that you can get handcrafted beers, spirits, meads, and ciders right from the source – all within a one-minute walk within the CCIC. That’s a strong Saturday afternoon and evening if I’ve ever heard of one. But it doesn’t stop there, there is more craft beverage there, both presently and in the near future.
West Fork Whiskey and B Side Productions (they run the Tastings Wine Bar) have had dry storage or barrel space at CCIC for years, and Hotel Tango Distillery now now has dry storage at CCIC. And now Fowling Warehouse has taken up 50,000 sq. ft. of space in the north end where they have their fowling lanes (a combination of bowling, football, and cornholes, see this article). Two huge craft beer bars, a mystery beer machine, West Fork Whiskey Wednesdays, and a chance to knock things down is a fun time in anybody’s book.
And the craft beverage situation at CCIC is about to expand again. The southern (original) part of the factory is undergoing a complete renovation and will house new tenants starting in mid-2021. The space will include a collaborative music performance space called Soundspace, a theater venue, as well as some offices, more than a couple restaurants, and a craft beer bar called Convivial – operated by the people who run La Margarita.
Going back to Rachel’s nickname for CCIC as “the house that booze built” – Centerpoint, New Day, 8th Day, Fowling Warehouse, Convivial, and more than likely others; the name seems apt.
Makers – CCIC is more than alcohol. It’s a place that takes a day or two to experience all it has to offer, and many visits to see it as it develops and evolves. For instance, there are currently 114 artist tenants at CCIC, making it the largest studio home in the city. That number doesn’t even count the art-adjacent studios of Circle City Metalworks, furniture makers Bohall Design and Fabrication, and bespoke western wear maker Union Western.
You want a fun night? Check out First Fridays at CCIC. All the artists open their studios/galleries, the craft beverage producers have specials, and there is live music and food. You can watch demonstrations at Glass Arts Indiana, and check out the new or temporary artist installations. CCIC wants to be sure that they maintain an artist presence over time, so their spaces are “artist protected.” When one artist leaves, only another artist can take that space. This ensures that the 1000+ people that come to First Fridays will always have a strong artist presence to enjoy and learn from.
Many of the studios have hours outside of First Fridays, and places like Indy Fused Glass and Glass Arts Indiana hold classes through the week. The Schwitzer Gallery is open on weekdays, but some artists have irregular hours, so it will be a nice surprise if you catch them there.
Food – There is food at CCIC too. Lick Ice Cream makes some amazing flavors at CCIC, and Bee Roasters roasts their coffee at CCIC although they sell it elsewhere. Gaucho’s Food Truck makes CCIC its home and SoChatti Chocolates opened there a couple of months ago, but by far the best way to get food at CCIC is the Saturday morning Indy Winter Farmers Markets.
Rachel told me, “We’re thrilled to host the IWFM. There are a number of farmers markets around Indy in the summertime, but it’s great to have a place to get your fresh produce, bread, honey, and all those other farmers market goodies when then weather is bad. The CCIC provides a unique opportunity for that because we have the square footage and, more importantly, the parking to sustain a large market, and the IWFM is a pretty big market. They generally have upward of 50 vendors and their markets are very well attended.”
Exercise – If you plan on eating and drinking while at CCIC, it might be wise to burn some calories as well. CCIC has you covered there as well. There is the Just Ride Cycle Studio that has spin classes galore, many being held outside under the roof by Centerpoint Brewing during the pandemic. Dance Kaleidoscope is also a CCIC tenant, and they offer kids dance classes on the weekends (you can try to pass for a kid). More my speed, there is the Fowling Warehouse where you can pay a mere $10 and throw a football at pins for as long as you like.
Conclusion – CCIC really does have something for everyone, and allows for a full day or evening of exercise, food, drink, enlightenment, and fun. Rachel told me, “As proud as I am of the progress we’ve made in the last 5 years, we’re still a work in progress. The more things we cross off the to-do list, the more we add onto it. But, in the same way that the CCIC today is not the same building it was 5 years ago, I believe the CCIC 5 years from now will be greatly improved. I encourage people to visit us with that mindset – that you are not seeing something that is fully realized, but actively growing and changing all the time. It’s exciting for us, and we hope our visitors will embrace that excitement and energy.”
Check out the CCIC website to see what’s going on, as well as have access to all the tenants websites.