Neighborhood concerned about old GM site, too

Inside INdiana Business

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — As the city of Indianapolis and Ambrose Property Group squabble about the future of the old GM Stamping plant site in downtown Indy, a fight that could end up in court, residents who live near the property are weighing in with their concerns.

Jay Napoleon, president of The Valley Neighborhood Association, says it’s important the mixed-use vision for the property remain intact.  “It’s that important, not just for my little neighborhood, but for the city at large,” said Napoleon, who remains optimistic development will happen on the high profile property.  “Everyone who looks at that site, when they go to the location, they see the geography of it, the proximity to downtown, everyone comes away with the same idea, that this is a once in a generation, once in a lifetime opportunity that we have to get right.”

Napoleon and Ambrose Property Group Vice President Mali Simone Jeffers talked about the future of the project on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

While Ambrose is changing its business focus away from mixed-use projects like Waterside, Jeffers says the firm is not “scrapping” plans for the site.  “That just couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Jeffers.  “We want a vibrant, urban mixed-use development that adds vibrancy to this neighborhood and amenities to this community.”

In late September, Ambrose announced it had begun the process of selling the property, moving away from its ambitious $1.4 billion mix of residential, retail, commercial and entertainment in neighborhood settings on the 100-acre site along the White River.

Chief Executive Officer Aasif Bade said it is part of a changing business model, to one more focused on e-commerce and industrial development. “We believe that a focused approach on one segment of real estate development is best for our investors, our clients, employees and the communities where we invest,” Bade said in a prepared statement.

But the city pushed back, threatening to pursue legal action, including eminent domain, to seize the property if Ambrose refuses to come to the table to negotiate.  “We would actually have control over that site so that if Ambrose Property Group sold it to another developer that they couldn’t just hang on to it for, you know, 20 years, if it’s in our hands then we can actually control that redevelopment,” Emily Mack, director of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, told our partners at WISH-TV.

In a response letter, Bade said the city’s continued threat of acquiring the site through eminent domain “has violated our rights and is harming the community by putting Waterside in a state where no buyer will move forward.”

Stay tuned.

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