Monday, August 24, 2015

IBJ Article Discussing Cost Of Montage On Mass Very Misleading

The IBJ's Scott Colson has a story about the $50 million mixed retail project known as Montage on Mass now being ready for its first review by city officials. "The city is contributing the land and $3.5 million in tax-increment financing funds to build the underground parking garage," Olson writes. That's but a fraction of the cost Indianapolis taxpayers are paying to make this project possible for the politically-connected developers who were awarded the project by Mayor Greg Ballard based on all of the campaign contributions they've given him over the years.

Here's the reality. The buildings for the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters and Station 7, which were perfectly fine for their use, are being demolished. The City had to purchase the former Red Cross property on Fort Wayne Avenue to build a new fire station and remodel the Red Cross' office space to house the IFD headquarters. It also had to provide money to the Red Cross to relocate its offices to Meridian Street. Then there was the cost the City is paying to relocate the Firefighters Credit Union to another location further up Mass Ave. City officials claimed a drive-up credit union was a bad fit on Mass Avenue but wound up approving another drive-up facility two blocks further north where it is arguably equally as ill-suited. Add up all of those costs and the City is spending about $50 million to make this project happen for these politically-connected developers, the same amount they are spending on their new project on the land gifted to them by the city. Yes, the cost to taxpayers to make this private development project equals the amount of private investment in the project.

The beneficiaries of the latest theft of public assets are: J.C. Hart, Paul Kite's Strongbox and Schmidt & Associates. The City will also pay a 7-figure real estate brokerage fee to CBRE's Gordon Hendry, husband of Democratic operative Jennifer Wagner, who once published a blog called The Accidental Mayor in which she repeatedly lambasted Mayor Ballard following his election in 2007. Hendry, a former staffer for Mayor Peterson, has won several no-bid contracts from the City after Wagner shut down her blog and purged it from the Internet. Among the work Hendry performed for the City was his disastrous attempt to choose a site for the mayor's controversial proposed criminal justice center, which the City-County Council killed earlier this year. Hendry had actually chosen a site next to the Indianapolis International Airport on the county's western edge as the best site for siting a new complex for the county's courts and jail complex until a firestorm ensued and the City had to settle on the old GM Stamping Plant site closer to downtown. For all of that, Indianapolis will be treated to more cheaply-built apartments charging high rental rates and adding even more bars to the overly-liquored up business district, none of which will add to the local tax base since it's located in a TIF district that will capture all of the revenues for future projects just like this one.


Anonymous said...

Look at who the beneficiaries of this slimy deal are to understand why the IBJ won't scrutinize it.

Anonymous said...

Hendry is like one of those movie villains where people break into his house and force him to give up his account passwords, draining all of his money and giving it to charity. The audience cheers because the bad guy got what was coming to him.

If Hendry's car is stolen, can he actually call in the theft of what is itself stolen property?

Did Wagner take down her blog as a sort of quid pro quo? If so, you need to get in on the blackmail game, Gary.

Anonymous said...

It's really obvious that Unigov was a really bad idea that needs to be unwound. Put Marion County back to the way it was, and let the old city limits of Indianapolis fight out who steals the Indianapolis tax revenue.

Maybe Indy can create a new city called Downtownia that has all those annoying downtown bars and apartments and weird shops that nobody in the rest of the city ever wants to patronize.