Monday, August 02, 2010

IDI Boasts Of Downtown Building Boom Fueled Entirely By Government Spending

All of the building that has taken place downtown of any significance in Indianapolis during the past decade has been largely driven by government projects and government-subsidized projects, but leave it to the publicly-financed Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. to boast how Indianapolis is experiencing a building boom unlike other major cities. The Star's Bill Ruthhart fell for IDI's propaganda hook, line and sinker:

The recession has brought downtown construction to a crawl in many cities, but not Indianapolis.

Boosted mostly by tax-supported projects, Indy's Downtown is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar construction boom that some say may be among the largest in the nation.

Experts caution that it doesn't necessarily signal an unusually robust local economy, but the spending comes at a good time -- when interest rates and construction costs are low -- and it could position the city for growth once economic vitality returns.
According to a new tally recently released by Indianapolis Downtown Inc., 78 projects worth $3.3 billion are under way Downtown, up from $2.8 billion worth of investment as measured in January.

Much of the construction is supported by public sector investments in facilities such as the new Wishard Memorial Hospital, the Indiana Convention Center expansion and renovations of the Birch Bayh Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse and Minton-Capehart Federal Building backed by federal stimulus dollars.

But Downtown and surrounding areas have seen private investment in expansions at Methodist and Riley hospitals, the construction of the 1,000-room JW Marriott hotel complex and additions to the NCAA headquarters.

"Our pipeline of projects continues to grow, even given the economic times we're facing," said Terry Sweeney, vice president of real estate development for Indianapolis Downtown Inc., a nonprofit supported by the city that aims to manage, market and develop Downtown.

"What's equally as impressive is we're having investment happening throughout the Downtown, and not just in one pocket and not in just one industry, but across the board and across the geographical boundaries of Downtown."
First of all, the Methodist and Riley hospital projects both involve nonprofit entities which derive most of their money from government-paid health care and pay no property taxes. The J.W. Marriott hotel was only built because nearly $60 million in public funds were dumped into the project to convince billionaire Dean White the project was worthy of undertaking. That didn't stop the IDI's Terry Sweeney from telling Ruthhart that White "had the courage to build the JW Marriott with all cash and push right through a down economy."
The residential market is reeling from the recession. The construction of new condos for the downtown market has dried up completely. Sales have fallen off so dramatically that some condo projects under construction had to be converted to apartments simply to get them into use. Other finished condo projects sit half empty or more. Selling prices of existing condos downtown have plummeted. The only new projects recently announced are all government-owned and funded projects. That's hardly a $3.3 billion construction boom worthy of the billing it gets in today's Star. It has been more than a decade since a new building has been undertaken entirely by the private sector that has changed the Indianapolis downtown skyline. Leave it to the publicly-funded IDI to create more phony story lines about the success of downtown like they've become renowned for creating.


M Theory said...

Can IDI explain why the entire Meridian Corridor leading to downtown is full of FOR LEASE / FOR SALE signs?

As a friend of mine so aptly put not long ago, "All of Meridian Street is for sale!"

Southsider said...

And is the old Market Square site still landscaped in gravel?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Who can name the last high rise building constructed in downtown Indianapolis without public subsidies and the year it was built?

Downtown Indy said...

My guess is it was the Bank One (now Chase) building. As I recall, the signage on the safety barriers around it said it was financed by a large insurance company. I forget which one - Hartford, Prudential or one of those large ones.

That would have been 1987.

But even at that, there may have been some city assistance for acquiring the Hume Mansur and surrounding properties.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Riley towers?

Blog Admin said...

I wouldn't be surprised if it was before my lifetime, Gary. 1986, for those who are wondering, was when I was born.

It seems like these public subsidies (for construction, pro-sports, arts groups, etc...) are out of a desire to be a top tier city. But money can't buy happieness, and I don't think it can buy a city's image either.

Citizen Kane said...

As I've indicated in at least one of my letters to the editor; any idiot can spend other people's money - it doesn't take any special talent. Yet, otherwise supposedly intelligent people fall for it these type of pronouncements as proof of how special Indianapolis is - instead of recognizing the kleptocratic nature of our local government.

Cato said...

The Star didn't "fall" for anything. The Star was told to shill for it and to pump up support for it.

We keep pumping money into a downtown that these thieves say will make all of us money.

Nefarious collectivist desires noted, the wealth generation never happens. Downtown funding is throwing good money after bad so people with a huge inferiority complexes can make their city look legitimate to their out-of-town friends when they shoot Indy as the backdrop for commercial breaks during Colts games.