Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Shouldn't CIB Sell MSA Land?

If the CIB has been running deficits for years, why is it holding on to the prime vacant land of the former Market Square Arena, which the Simons ordered the CIB to implode as part of the deal which gave its Pacers NBA franchise Conseco Fieldhouse? This little item in today's Star mentions that the CIB is seeking an extension on the gravel lot that the site has become:

The city-run Capital Improvement Board wants an 18-month zoning extension to keep gravel parking lots on the former Market Square Arena site. The nearly 5-acre site at Market and Alabama streets has been operated by the CIB as gravel lots since 2004. Zoning rules normally require Downtown parking lots to be paved. A zoning board will consider the extension request today. Planners recommend approval, saying the city still is looking for private developers to build on the site and "paving could be viewed as an inappropriate taxpayer expense."

Instead of putting up the land for sale at an auction, the City has hung on to it for years in order to partner with private developers for a future use of the site. Former Mayor Peterson tried desparately to make a deal happen for a private developer that included his former deputy mayor, William Shrewsberry. That deal fell through when lenders wisely pulled the plug on the deal. Has anyone thought of letting the private sector drive development of land within the downtown area for a change? Put the land up for sale at an auction and see what the market bears. Note that private land owners are never allowed to have a gravel parking lot anywhere near the downtown area as the CIB has been permitted to do with this site for years.

13 comments:

Downtown Indy said...

With the legacy of always giving away land, or giving it away along with a huge check, the City has probably tainted the real estate market so badly NO ONE would simply buy it outright.

Advance Indiana said...

You're right. The expectation is that the City will give the land to them for free and throw in tens of millions in economic incentives.

Indy4U2C said...

The MSA site is the perfect location to build a giant jail/courts building. Currently our liberal judges are failing to perform their duty to keep us safe from criminals, and nobody goes to jail/prison in Marion County. The new jail/courts building should be a giant facility allowing judges to incarcerate all deserving individuals, so we stop hearing how someone on early release victimized us or someone on "home detention" victimized us.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Indy4U2C, I would agree. That makes so much sense in terms of a use for the land. Mixing in criminals and alleged criminals into the general population of the city going to the courthouse for other purposes doesn't make a lot of sense.

With the courts cleared out, they could rent out space in the CCB to attorneys and other individuals. You could recoup a lot of the cost of building a courts building.

Brienne said...

I believe it is "ok" to leave the lots as gravel lots. However, they do look a tad bit trashy in the middle of downtown. I propose that the CIB invest in new lot boundary markers (i.e. something other than rusty poles and chains) and a new teller booth. Small improvements would make a big difference in the appearance of the lots.

Wilson46201 said...

That new courthouse has been the dream of judges and city government officials for many, many years but there's one slight problem: CONSTRUCTION COSTS! In this period of NO NEW TAXES NEVER EVER, financing that new courthouse might be a tad difficult it seems to me.

Ogden's idea of then renting out spare space in the CC Bldg to downtown lawyers also has a slight flaw: the public's own lawyer, the County Prosecutor, is already renting office space outside of the CC Bldg. That rent ain't cheap either! If anything, the Prosecutor could then move back into the CC Bldg should the judges move out...

Advance Indiana said...

For some reason, nobody wants the old city hall building which is just sitting there going to waste.

Kristin said...

Voters in Indianapolis need to act to change how tax abatements are handled. If we had accountability for how our tax money is spent, we wouldn't be in this situation, where a piece of land in a prime location goes wasted.

guy77money said...

Gary is correct a parking lot must be paved after a certain time limit. I suspect the insurance company's had a lot to do with this law. The city may have an exemption to this law. I know farms and city parks are the only places I can think that have unpaved parking within Marion county.

Citizen Kane said...

Of course, it should have been sold along time ago. The city is not a developer; it merely transfers wealth from taxpayers to leeches chasing government largesse.

And as indicated, no one would be dumb enough to buy it without the getting mucho incentives.

The usual city argument for holding onto land is to prevent someone from buying it and putting it to some undesirable use - like a surface parking lot. So, of course, with the city owning it, we don't even get a legitimate parking surface - nine years later.

Jon said...

How about making the site a small park? Some green space in the center of town rather than another gray office building.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

"Note that private land owners are never allowed to have a gravel parking lot anywhere near the downtown area as the CIB has been permitted to do with this site for years. "

Where are the zoning thugs when you need them!

Sean Shepard said...

@Wilson regarding "no taxes ever" ... Taxes always start out small 1%, 2%, 6% and then gradually creep up as government expands and grows just like any other private enterprise hopes to do, only government is unabated by actually having to "sell" something in competitive market to willing buyers. They can just tax until the turnip dries up. If they had saved money in a construction fun or planned ahead somehow, building something without new taxes would be possible. Instead they always want to spend all of the money, and then ADD taxes to build something new.

Even the Federal Income tax started out at 1% on people making (inflation adjusted) $250,000 a year or more and another 5% on anything over $10 million or thereabouts. Now we have payroll taxes of over 15% on EVERYONE up to $100k, 10% and 15% on people of modest incomes and a top rate of 35 going to 39%. Even local and state taxes were much more modest when initiated, many of them not until the middle of the 20th century.

So, yeah, no new taxes or increases EVER AGAIN is a very fair position.

The city shouldn't be in the real estate business or partners in private real estate deals, SELL THE LAND at a fair market price. While they are at it, they should sell the golf courses too.