Panel recommends huge $260 million development on Mass Ave site

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An advisory panel working for Indianapolis Public Schools has recommended a huge $260 million development at the old Coca-Cola bottling site along Massachusetts Avenue.

The district has attempted to sell the property before. This time, it is hoping the deal will stick.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the real estate advisory panel recommended the proposal, from Wisconsin-based Hendricks Commercial Properties, from among five different developers who bid on the site.

“They’ll add more to the tax base than any of the other projects, due to the size. They are proposing more commercial and retail space, the other projects were more heavily weighted toward residential apartments,” panel member George Tikijian said.

Hendricks has offered $12 million for the property.

The proposal calls for multiple buildings on the site, including 337 residential units that would be mix of apartments, condos, and townhouses. It would also include offices, retail, including a commitment already from West Elm, dining, a daycare, a dinner movie theatre, 1,800 parking spots, and a possible boutique hotel.

“I think we’re in as good a shape as we’ve been, we have a very strong bid vetted by real estate experts throughout the community,” IPS Operations Officer David Rosenberg said.

The proposal is the only one that did not call for any city or federal subsidies.

However, the city has become heavily involved in the process. The Mayor’s Office drafted an agreement with the district that would put the city in the driver’s seat with the developer. If passed by the board and city-county council, the city will be on the hook to reach a deal with the developer in a year, or it would match the developer’s price and buy the property from IPS.

A spokesperson for Mayor Joe Hogsett’s Office sent CBS4 this statement:

“From the beginning, we have sought to preserve the city’s ability to require a project agreement that reflects the neighborhood’s vision for this unique site as well as our own standards for responsible development. Our agreement with IPS accomplishes that and ensures we’ll be able to take full advantage of the work that IPS and the Board of Commissioners have done over the last year to engage the community in a discussion about the future of this historic property. We are fully confident that the end result of these efforts will be a transformative project that leverages the success of the Mass Ave district to strengthen and grow the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Two city-county council members, including Zach Adamson, who represents the district, told CBS4 they had not seen the city’s agreement with the district. Adamson said that he does have concerns that none of the developers took the neighborhood into account in their proposals.

The council will need to hear the proposed agreement within 60 days. If it does not pass, Rosenberg said IPS would move forward with the developer on its own.

The IPS board will vote on the plans for the property at its meeting this Thursday. It could go with the recommendation or decide to choose a different developer for the site.

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