Bottleworks project secures additional funding

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The developers of a $300 million redevelopment project in downtown Indianapolis have landed additional funding. Hendricks Commercial Properties secured $59 million in financing for the Bottleworks District in the city’s Mass Ave corridor with the help of Carmel-based Merchants Capital.

The Bottleworks project is transforming a former Coca-Cola bottling plant into a mixed-use culinary, arts and entertainment hub. The first phase of the effort is slated to open in September.

“Hendricks is proud to partner with Merchants to bring Bottleworks District – a fusion of past and present in the heart of historic neighborhoods – to Indianapolis,” Mark Koziol, chief financial officer at Hendricks Commercial Properties, said in a news release. “Our $300 million, 12-acre urban mixed-use development is the largest private development of its kind in Indiana, and we can’t wait to see it come to life in fall 2020.”

Merchants Capital says the newly-secured financing comes through a fully-funded, three-year Merchants Bank of Indiana New Construction Loan. The mortgage banking company says part of the financing involves Indiana Industrial Recovery Tax Credits, or DINO tax credits, which provide incentives for companies “to invest in former industrial facilities requiring significant rehabilitation or remodeling expenses.”

The Bottleworks District will feature a food hall, a boutique hotel, residential space, as well as 180,000 square feet of office space and 175,000 square feet of retail space.

The developers have unveiled a number of tenants, particularly for The Garage food hall. The most recently-announced tenants include Azucar Morena, a Venezuelan concept, and a ramen shop from Chicago-based Furious Spoon.


Hamilton County’s ‘Wellness Unit’ part of nationwide effort to improve mental health among officers

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An initiative to improve employee well-being at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is among a spate of efforts across the nation to address mental health concerns among officers.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush announced the department’s new “Wellness Unit”  — devoted to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its deputies, correctional officers and civilian employees — Friday in a Facebook post.

“Our guys really care about the public,” he said Monday in an interview with News 8. “When you see somebody who’s injured or victimized, it really impacts us… We’re only human.”

The Wellness Unit launched in January with funding approved by county council members and commissioners.

Appointments are held off-site at undisclosed locations to protect the privacy of employees. Supervisors are not briefed on which employees seek counseling or what they discuss during sessions.

Information gathered during counseling sessions will not be used to demote or discipline employees, and will only be disclosed if required by law, including when somebody poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The department’s entire staff will receive training related to suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, critical incidents, addiction, mindfulness and officer wellness, the sheriff said.

Nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); the suicide rate for police officers is four times higher than the rate for firefighters.

Years of daily exposure to stress, trauma and tragedy can have other devastating consequences if appropriate coping skills are not developed, according to Susan Sherer-Vincent, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcoholism counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist involved in launching the Wellness Unit.

“Think of the hurricanes that come in, in Florida, and think of the palm trees where they bend,” she explained. “But then, what happens afterwards? They go back up. That’s called resilience. We want our officers to bend, not break.”

Until approximately 3 to 5 years ago, officers were often conditioned to “pull [themselves] up by the bootstraps and go to the next call” instead of addressing personal struggles, Sherer-Vincent said.

Cultivating resiliency can be difficult within a law enforcement culture that equates mental health challenges with “weakness,” she said.

“[Officers] are trained to have the warrior mentality,” Sherer-Vincent told News 8. “Truly, they would have been made fun of [in the past for seeking counseling].”

She compared strong, silent officers with underdeveloped coping skills to California’s famed redwood trees.

“They’re pretty sturdy. But what would happen if you took an ax and hit those every single day, day after day, for years? They would eventually fall,” she said.

Quakenbush credits his wife, church and non-law enforcement friends with providing “a really good support system.”

“But sometimes, you need a professional,” he said, urging employees to “talk through” negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol and other substances for temporary relief.

Several internal cases that resulted in disciplinary action during his year-long tenure as sheriff may have been prevented with wellness-focused intervention, Quakenbush said.

He was unable to comment on personnel matters. 

Sources within the department indicated some of the cases involved employees with substance abuse issues that had escalated over time, possibly as a result of work-related stress that had gone unaddressed. 

“I wouldn’t say that [disciplinary action] was happening often,” Quakenbush told News 8. “But seeing it happen and knowing that we probably could have done something about it made it impactful and something that we wanted to make a priority.”

Hamilton County announced its Wellness Unit days after New York City police officials revealed plans to hire a team of psychologists to combat a spike in officer suicides.

On Feb. 13, Indianapolis police officials said they planned to swear in the department’s first full-time therapy dog by the end of March.

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