INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The city of Indianapolis is a step closer to filling one of the last pieces of undeveloped land downtown. A committee of the City-County Council approved a project called North of South on Wednesday.
The development is planned for an 11-acre area north of South Street, east of Conseco Fieldhouse.
It's a $155 million investment to create a small hotel, apartments and other businesses — even a "state of the art" YMCA.
City planners say they like the concept because it turns a parking lot into something that will generate $350 million for the area. They say the construction will help nearby companies such as Eli Lilly, Wellpoint and Indiana Farm Bureau. They have presented it also as a development that will be good for nearby neighborhoods.
Lilly provided some of the land for North of South – worth an estimated $15 million. The company endorsed the project because it can use the complex for meetings that are too big for its headquarters building but too small for a traditional convention hall. A Lilly representative said the company will also lease some of the new apartment space to provide housing for employees who come to Indianapolis for long-term training programs.
A state grant will help pay for the project, as will taxes raised by the project and $9 million in city infrastructure improvements around North of South.
At a committee hearing on the project Wednesday night, one council member, Democrat Joanne Sanders, called it "a beautiful development." But, she said she opposes it "because taxpayers are contributing 67 percent of this development while the developer contributes 4.8 percent."
Deron Kintner, executive director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank, explained the plans for the committee. He said the city expects to be in and out of this deal in 10 years. And, he said, "Having spent $9 million on a $150 million project is pretty remarkable." He said the economic conditions forced city planners to be more creative than they might have before the recession, when banks were more willing to lend money than they are now. He said, the way this proposal is structured, "there's $86 million left to be financed." But, he said that "gap" will be covered by revenues from tax-increment financing.
When the project was unveiled last September, promoters suggested the hotel in the project would be built in time for the Super Bowl in Indianapolis next year. Kintner said that's not true. It won't open until "later in 2012."
Critics challenged other aspects of the project during the committee discussion. But, Kintner said he sees a greater risk in leaving the land undeveloped.
The committee's approval means the proposal goes to the full council with a "do pass" recommendation.
The right two lanes of Interstate 70 east near Interstate 465 were closed Tuesday evening due to a crash.
If you're looking for something to do over the next seven days you may want to check out Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On Tuesday, Indianapolis Police Chief Rick Hite will promote 23 officers. Three sergeants will be elevated to the rank of lieutenant. Twenty patrol officers will be promoted to the rank of sergeant.