Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ballard Giving Away City Hall To Private Developer

The Indianapolis Star is giddy today because your precious public assets are once again being gifted by our generous mayor to a private developer. This time it's our treasured former City Hall, one of the finest and best built buildings in the City of Indianapolis that is currently sitting vacant. Rather than use it for the governmental purpose as it was intended, Mayor Greg Ballard would rather just give it away to a private developer for use as a boutique hotel.
A sleek, new boutique hotel, rising eight to 10 stories with about 150 rooms, will be built on a parking lot north of the old City Hall on Alabama Street as part of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment. 
The old City Hall will serve as hotel lobby and public art gallery, said Adam Thies, director of the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development. It also could house several arts and community groups, although no agreements have been signed. 
"We really are interested in this project becoming a symbol for Indianapolis as an arts and culture hub," Thies said.
The most important information from the standpoint of taxpayers is missing from the story: How much will it cost us?
The city will continue to own the old City Hall and will provide the building under a long-term lease to the hotel developer, a small specialty chain called 21c Museum Hotels LLC, based in Louisville, Ky. 
Thies declined to say Wednesday how much will be spent on the project. Nor did he say what kind of incentives the city, state and federal governments plan to give 21c, saying that information would be released Thursday. 
Stephanie Greene, a spokeswoman for 21c, declined Wednesday to give details or even confirm the project, referring questions to city officials. "The mayor's office is handing this," she said.
Yes, the mayor's office handles all development in the City of Indianapolis these days it seems. You can bet the terms of the deal aren't favorable to taxpayers; otherwise, why hold back the most important details--at least if you care about taxpayers?

UPDATE: The Star's John Russell has a new story online, "Big splash, big price tag for old City Hall project," It says half the $55 million cost will come from a mix of government support, including a $9 million loan from the city backstopped by the downtown TIF slush fund. The terms of the long-term lease of the old City Hall building aren't disclosed in the story, presumably because the developer will pay a nominal fee of like $1 a year. There's also no mention of the price tag for the extremely valuable city-owned surface lot on which the new hotel will be constructed at the corner of Alabama and New York Streets, presumably because the City will simply donate the land to the out-of-town developer. The feds are providing a loan of $9 million, while the project will qualify for $4 million in federal tax credits. The Central Indiana Community Foundation will kick in a donation to the project as well. Nice use of charitable contributions, eh? I'm in the wrong business. I need to get a gig where the government just passes out tens of millions of dollars to me to play real estate developer.

Our buffoon of a mayor believes landing this hotel by giving away the store again means our city is "prepared to compete on a global stage for talent."


Anonymous said...

The absolutely corpulent and corrupt low-intelligence Greg Ballard is no doubt again carrying the water for the deep-pocketed special interests who have bought off and paid for on-the-take Democrats and Republicans- which almost wholly populate the City County Council and the State Legislature.

Perfidious Democrats and Republicans have long used the cities as a cash register for themselves and their friends.

It is time for a change. It can begin with electing Jocelyn-Tandy Adande as Mayor of Indianapolis... a life-long City resident who has done far more concrete against the profiteering Democrats and Republicans other than type out their complaints on an electronic page.

Anonymous said...

True, the building should again be used to hours all City/County offices and the currently used structure torn down.

Anonymous said...

Old City Hall is nowhere near large enough to house existing City offices.

Flogger said...

Whoa, call out the EPA the amount of toxic, nauseous gas emanating from the Indiana General Assembly and our Marion County Government is positively over powering. Take a deep breath before you drive through downtown or grab a gas mask and roll up the windows. I would call on the EPA since it appears the Organs of State Security at the Federal, State and Local Level, cannot seem to locate the Stank.

I am certainly no expert on the Law, but is our Law Enforcement simply ignoring all this Quid Quo Pro between the Crony-Capitalists and our Elected Officials or are the Laws written so muddy that virtually nothing is illegal - or combination of both.

Our Local Mega-Media is like the Three Monkeys - Hear No Evil, See No Evil, and Speak No Evil of our Political System.

I read an interesting column in the NY Times by Zepher Teachout who was commenting on the Speaker of the NY Assembly Sheldon Silver being arrested for various corruption charges. Mr. Teachout writes - "Think of campaign donations as the gateway drug to bribes." He states further - "The Campaign Finance System means politicians come pre-corrupted."

Blog Admin said...

I'd be hesitant about tearing down the current CCB if only because the rent is a really good deal and I doubt the powers that be would allow that to happen.

Anonymous said...

That would be a great place to put the Mayor's Office, all Executive Department Heads and Police Headquarters.

If WE did that, the CCB would free up space for other offices that are now leased over other parts of the city.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone believe the owners of this posh hotel will tolerate the Wheeler Mission homeless shelter at its backdoor? The countdown begins for the city to pay a big relocation fee to the nonprofit to remove itself from the view of the patrons to our world class city.

Anonymous said...

Look into the Volts cost IMPD 849 dollars a month per car and how the bigwigs are enforcing the term rent instead of lease sicne leasing without public bidding violates the law.