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Whitestown set to advance plans for aquatics facility at former auto junkyard

WHITESTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — The growing Boone County town of Whitestown on Wednesday is set to take another step toward a partnership for the construction of a $20 million aquatic facility at a former automobile junkyard.

Whitestown plans to partner with Indianapolis real estate developer Milhaus and Kansas City, Missouri, sports complex operator Homefield on the project. The planned development was presented at a Town Council meeting in February 2021.

The town in 2021 announced the minimum $135 million project would include these features:

  • • Approximately 200,000-square-foot Homefield youth sports environment, with at least one outdoor field.
  • • Approximately 250-unit market rate apartments.
  • • Flagged hotel with at least 105 rooms.
  • • An outdoor water sports and entertainment venue.
  • • At least 50,000 square feet of medical office building uses.
  • • Approximately 50,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
  • • Potential for approximately 75 for-sale residential units.

Kim Heffner, the town government’s director of public relations, told News 8 that the aquatics facility, which could be completed by 2025, would be the start of the larger development.

The former Wrecks Inc. automobile junkyard along Indianapolis Road would be the site of the project. Wrecks Inc. crushed used vehicles and sold parts from the location. Operations stopped in 2005, and the state initiated a lawsuit for the site’s cleanup. Late in 2022, the town says, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a Certificate of Completion for the site’s cleanup.

A town news release issued Friday said that the local government “has worked to ensure that the environmental issues on the former Wrecks property were addressed.”

Whitestown officials have previously said the project is expected to be funded through tax increment financing (TIF) plus the adoption of a food and beverage tax. TIF projects capture future property taxes from an area of development and redirect all of the money to the development from schools, local government and others that would have received it.

Town Council President Clinton Bohm said in the Friday release that property taxes will not increase.

The release says the town council expects to adopt a build-operate-transfer (BOT) process at its meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Municipal Complex, 6210 Veterans Drive. “The BOT model is used to finance and operate large publicly-owned projects through a public-private partnership,” the release said.

The next step will be to seek proposals for the aquatics facility. The selected bidder would construct, operate and manage the facility while the town government would retain ownership, said Town Manager Jason Lawson in Friday’s release.

Whitestown’s population has grown from 3,128 in 2010 to 11,093 in 2021, according to data from Stats Indiana. It’s Indiana’s second-fastest growing community behind Westfield in Hamilton County, according to Census data analyzed by the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.