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Glicks Give $2 Million for Humanitarian Memorial

by Kathleen McLaughlin – mclaughlin@ibj.com
IBJ staff

Indianapolis real estate mogul Gene Glick always wanted to build an homage to peace in a city whose icon is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

Then Indianapolis Cultural Trail founder Brian Payne convinced Glick to build outward, instead of up. Glick donated $15 million toward the $55 million Cultural Trail that’s now under construction, but he didn’t let go of his vision.

This morning, Payne and Glick’s daughter Marianne Glick announced plans for a $2 million memorial to humanitarians. The Glick Peace Walk will be built just north of downtown within sight of the American Legion Mall.

“All of this was Gene’s idea,” Payne said of Glick, himself a World War II veteran. “He still wanted to find a way to connect this idea of really celebrating great humanitarians who make their contribution to mankind through something other than war.”

The Peace Walk will be built on Walnut Street from Meridian Street to Capitol Avenue. It’s being incorporated into a one-mile section of the Cultural Trail along Walnut Street. Both the Glick walk and trail are designed by Rundell Ernstberger Associates, a Muncie-based architecture firm.

The Peace Walk design calls for 10 “luminary gardens,” which are places for reflection on the contributions of people like Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Each of the great names was chosen by Glick.

The “garden” areas will be paved and decorated with customized terrazzo designs and timelines. From a bench at one end of the garden, a visitor can contemplate the contribution of the honored humanitarian, whose face will be displayed on a 12-foot-tall steel-and-glass structure at the opposite end. The so-called “luminaries” will light up and change colors at night.

Renderings can be seen at Indiana Business Journal‘s arts and entertainment blog, Lou Harry’s A&E.

Walnut Street is the third of seven phases of the Cultural Trail, which is planned for eight miles around downtown. The Walnut Street corridor is being torn out and rebuilt with brick pavers in the traffic lanes and a median to hold the Cultural Trail.

Payne said Glick always wanted to build the Indianapolis equivalent of Seattle’s Space Needle or the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. “I think it’s going to stand on its own in becoming a known iconic destination,” Payne said of the Peace Walk.

One more element of the plan calls for two of the illuminated structures to be installed at busy intersections in the heart of the convention and hotel district. A luminary honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. will be at the southeast corner of Washington and Pennsylvania streets. Another honoring Abraham Lincoln will be at the southwest corner of Washington and Illinois streets.

The Cultural Trail is being built through private fund-raising, led by Payne, and has netted $42 million so far. That includes major gifts that Payne will announce today:

-$500,000 from Frank and Katrina Basil

-$100,000 from Citizens Energy Group, dedicated to the construction of the southeast corridor of the trail

-$100,000 from Jim Bisesi, senior vice president of the Gene B. Glick Company.

-$85,000 from the W.C. Griffith Foundation

-$25,000 from an anonymous donor

-The Indianapolis Urban League is also donating a portion of its property at Indiana Avenue and St. Clair Street.

Payne said he hopes to raise another $13 million by the end of 2010. He said he’s in conversations on some major donations. “So we’re in the hunt. We do believe we’re going to be successful.”

Mike Woods