- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Engine maker Cummins Inc. announced plans Wednesday to build a $30 million headquarters for its global distribution business in downtown Indianapolis

The company said it expected about 400 people to eventually work in the new building at the site of the former Market Square Arena while keeping its corporate headquarters in the central Indiana city of Columbus.

Cummins now has about 100 employees at two Indianapolis office locations in areas such as communications, information technology and investor relations.

The new complex, expected to open in late 2016, will include ground-floor retail, public greenspace and a parking garage, according to the mayor’s office.

Cummins officials said the new office will help employee collaboration and accommodate business growth and wasn’t a sign of lessening its involvement in Columbus. It has some 8,000 headquarters and factory workers in that city and nearby communities.

“The majority of our employees are based here, and we’re committed (to Columbus),” Cummins spokesman Jon Mills told The Republic. “It’s been a great city for us; the city continues to be a great partner.”

The new Indianapolis office will fill half of a two-block area that’s been parking lots since Market Square Arena was demolished in 2001 after the construction of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Construction is expected to start in the coming months on a 28-story apartment tower on the other block after the City-County Council this month approved up to $23 million in city financing toward the estimated $81 million project.

The city has offered a 10-year property tax abatement to Cummins for its project and will give Cummins the half the land, valued at $5 million, said Deron Kintner, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development.

Mayor Greg Ballard said both projects are important for downtown development.

“In the past few months we have announced plans to transform those lots into vibrant places to live and work, put them on the property tax rolls, change the city skyline, and expand the presence of a Fortune 500 company downtown,” Ballard told The Indianapolis Star.

Several Cummins executives, including Chairman and Chief Executive Tom Linebarger, already split their time between offices in Indianapolis and about 40 miles south in Columbus.

“(Indianapolis) made great sense for us because of its proximity to a major airport,” Mills said.

Cummins first established its Indianapolis operations in 2004. With about $17 billion in annual revenue, Cummins ranks as Indiana’s third-largest public company, trailing only WellPoint Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co.