Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ballard Picks GM Stamping Plant As Preferred Location For Criminal Justice Center

The Ballard administration has thrown another curve ball in its plan to privatize the development of a new criminal justice center. Although early indications signaled a preference for a site near the Indianapolis International Airport, the site recommended by the city's consultant, CB Richard Ellis, the IBJ is reporting today that Mayor Ballard is now recommending the site of the former GM Stamping Plant along the White River just west of the downtown on W. Washington Street. The Ballard administration had already solicited proposals for redevelopment of that site for potential mixed commercial/residential/retail use independent of the siting process for a new criminal justice center.

The shift in sites probably has more to do with practicalities than anything. Many members of Indianapolis' legal community reacted very negatively to a site near the airport next to the county line with Hendricks County. The prevailing view is that the site should be one that is centrally-located and easiest to access for the population being served by the criminal courts, jail and related criminal justice offices. Additionally, a recent Indiana Supreme Court case, which blocked an effort by the Center Township Trustee's Office to relocate the township's small claims court to a site away from the City-County Building and sided with the small claims court judge who opposed the move, strongly suggested a legal challenge to an airport site might prove successful. Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg, who overseas Marion County's court facilities, recently stated that the case for an airport site had not been made. The Urbanophile's Aaron Renn offered this comment in reaction to today's decision naming the GM Stamping Plant site:
I applaud the mayor for picking the most logical site. The justice center needs to be centrally located in order to be easily accessible, especially by transit. Keep in mind that 10% of Marion County households don't own cars. Those family members, witnesses, and jurors should not be burdened with a potentially long trip to the far side of the county. On the Near West Side, the justice center can actually inject economic life into a neighborhood that could use it. And it would free up significant downtown real estate for taxable use. Let's hope this result stands and goes through.
While the GM Stamping Plant site is much more preferable to the airport site because of its central location, the means of developing the new criminal justice system as proposed by the Ballard administration still calls for its construction, ownership, operation and maintenance to be vested solely in the hands of a private development consortium rather than being constructed as a typical public works project through the issuance of general obligation bonds. Instead, a long-term credit-tenant financing agreement similar to the City's ill-advised leasing of space at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall for the Regional Operations Center is being considered, whereby the private development entity would borrow the money to construct the facility using the city's credit rating to obtain a lower rate of financing and lock the City into a long-term lease agreement with the private developer pledging city revenues for repayment of its loan. In the long term, that approach will cost considerably more than borrowing the money directly through the issuance of general obligation bonds and owning the facility outright. As I pointed out previously, all three finalists bidding for the criminal justice center project also rely on foreign entities for their equity investment in the project.

The selection of the GM Stamping Plant site should disabuse us of the notion that the site might be used for construction of an $87 million, publicly-financed soccer stadium that private developer Ersal Ozdemir is pushing for his Indy Eleven minor league professional soccer team. Ozdemir submitted a plan for redevelopment of the GM Stamping Plant through the separate RFP process being conducted by the Ballard administration. Others have told Advance Indiana that Ozdemir would like to see a new soccer stadium built at the site of the former RCA Tennis Center adjacent to the IUPUI campus along the downtown canal that was torn down a little more than two decades after its initial construction. The legislature has decided against acting on Ozdemir's stadium financing deal at least for this year's legislative session.


Anonymous said...

He needs to simply cancel the luxury high-rise on the Market Square Arena site and build the Criminal Justice Center with skyway to jail and CCB. It is the only logical thing to do, and gives the greatest benefit.

Anonymous said...

The former RCA Tennis Center would not work for a new soccer/concert facility. Look at Google earth. The site is too small, doesn't have sufficient parking, is tucked behind the Herron School of Art building, & lacks site lines & access to a major street.

MikeC said...

Getting the criminal industry out of downtown is essential to downtown residential/commercial development. Expanded bus service on Route 8 makes it work. This is a good use of a large vacant space. The city will also save money with reduced redundancies. This is a good call. And an easy one.

I like the direction things seem to be headed. It appears that the movers and shakers realize that Indianapolis needs to grow to survive and are putting into place the infrastructure changes to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

MikeC: Telling us to "move the criminal industry out of downtown." -More rhetoric from The Communications guy!

The best use of the Market Square Arena location is for a new Criminal Justice Complex that connects to the jail and CCB. MikeC has a grandiose vision that the rich people in the Flaherty & Collins luxury condos on that property won't want to see the scum of the earth being released from might offend the rich to actually see the criminals in person.

Putting the Criminal Justice Complex on the MSA site would also save money with reduced redundancies and increase efficiency.

I don't like the multi-million dollar use of our tax money and giving away our prime real estate for the benefit of the elite.

Also, from looking at the City Council's Investigation into the Regional Operations Center with subpoenas coming out, we are seeing the true motivation for this construction. I have no doubt that some of that same motivation is involved here.

Anonymous said...

MikeC wants to "criminal industry out of downtown. Most of us want more police to get the criminal industry out of our city!

Gary R. Welsh said...

You exposed their hand, MikeC. The driving force behind moving the criminal courts and jail outside of the mile square is the planned transit hub adjacent to the existing city-county building. Anyone who ventures over to the central bus stops on Ohio between Meridian and Pennsylvania encounters the people working their way through the "criminal industry" as you describe it that the downtown elites want to see banished from the mile square. Across the river is far enough to keep them out of sight and out of mind. That way when they build their multi-million dollar, new mass transit hub where they expect a light rail line to eventually connect downtown with Hamilton County, the undesirables won't be loitering about and scaring off the people they mistakenly believe are going to ditch their cars for a train ride downtown.

Anonymous said...

Detroit knows how to handle the crime industry:

Detroit Mom Fights Back!

Detroit Residents End Crime Industry one step at a time.

Anonymous said...

So MikeC wants to "get the crime industry out of downtown." Well, most murders in our violent city are already outside of downtown!

Perhaps MikeC just thinks that the rich and snooty who would maybe buy luxury downtown condos if they don't see criminals being released from our jail through a revolving justice system.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Mike C. is obviously a spokesman for the City. Nobody else would utter such a line as this:

"I like the direction things seem to be headed. It appears that the movers and shakers realize that Indianapolis needs to grow to survive and are putting into place the infrastructure changes to make it happen."

Nobody who isn't on Ballard's payroll believes that. Actually those on Ballard's payroll don't believe it either, but they say it because they're getting paid.

MikeC said...

Paul I am not an employee of the city. or county. I just like the way things are going. Indpls is being reorganized , it seems, to accommodate the continued redevelopment of the urban core. And then jail, as I understand it, is moving west as well. The whole criminal justice enterprise. There is too much unproductive dead space east of the CCB, probably because of the jails, etc. Many law firms have relocated to Keystone Xing and the northside, me included. No one wants jails near where they work and live, or near where development needs to occur.

Exciting things are starting to happen downtown. The high-rise, moving the jails and such to a vacant industrial area that is dormant, the transit hub, improved transit, more residential development near the MSA parking lot, rising demand for areas near the cultural trail, etc etc.

Indianapolis seems to be priming for another era of growth and development. I'm sorry you folks are too curmudgeonly to enjoy it.

Maybe y'all are the type of people who aren't happy unless you're angry and miserable.

So lighten up and at least try to see the good stuff going on. Change is good. Embrace it.

Anonymous said...

MikeC, first off state your employer. Are you employed by a communications or public relations firm hired by The Mayor's Reelection Committee or Indy Connect?

I agree with Paul, you are a spokesman for the city or the mayor's campaign.

There is an old credo about leadership that the leader addresses the problem, he doesn't move it to someone else (pass the buck). You suggest to "move the criminal industry out of downtown." The people of Indy do not want crime to be moved around from neighborhood to neighborhood. We want it addressed and eliminated.

The idea of moving the jail, courts, prosecutor office, public defender office, probation department, clerk's office from the current location to far away is a waste of TAX money. The most efficient use would be to put a Criminal Justice Complex with walkways to the jail & CCB where MSA was.

The ideas you have brought show you are financially irresponsible, believe in reckless TAXING AND SPENDING.

Many law firms are located walking distance of the CCB, because they frequently access the clerk's office, courtrooms, police headquarters, etc. Those who moved to Keystone Xing, are not trial lawyers. The jail and courts need to be located with the other government offices that work together with them. People want the central business district to be just that, not a place for snooty rich people to have luxury condos!

You seem angry and miserable. I've notice that you have been quick to throw the race card on another thread today and used insult in this thread. Lighten up. Few, if any, taxpayers agree with you...and that is a good thing. Lighten up, realize your ideas are not our ideas, and that if you can't get your point across without throwing the race card and insults, you have proven to have a defective position per se.

There is unproductive dead space in the downtown office buildings that should be encouraged. People want the better parking spaces and access to amenities that are outside of downtown. Times are changing. Take a class in Public Affairs and you'll learn that Central Cities are much different today than they used to be.

Bad things have been going on in this city involving government officials. They center around real estate transactions. At this time the City Council Investigatory Committee has issued subpoena and found improprieties, quick transfer, a bad lease signed without Corporation Counsel review, and some under-the-table action. There is a Grand Jury looking into that matter as well. There has been a call for the DOJ to send in its Public Integrity section.

Financial disclosure forms are in question about those Council members involved in the ROC. The change from honesty into corruption and paybacks is bad for the city and could have a long-lasting trickle-down effect.

Indianapolis it seems is spending recklessly in major real estate deals: New Wishard, Regional Operations Center, now the Criminal Justice Center, the Indy Connect system and a new terminal across from the CCB, and the new traffic court. Add it all up and how many billion of our tax dollars are involved? Can we afford it all at once? Is it fiscally responsible? -NO!

LamLawIndy said...

Well, I prefer the GM stamping site to the Airport site if a new center HAS to be built. I don't mind the lease arrangement, either, because the LAST thing Indy needs is another G/O bond issue: If things like the new Wishard or justice center are so great, then revenue bonds - which do not burden the public as a whole - should suffice. Of course, I want to see what the details of the lease will be first.

Anonymous said...

All some of the rich/elite need to to see some criminals in person is to look in the mirror. Don't have to look outside at all.

Payudara said...

Perhaps MikeC just thinks that the rich and snooty who would maybe buy luxury downtown condos if they don't see criminals being released from our jail through a revolving justice system.