Ambrose calls Indianapolis’ eminent domain threat over former GM stamping plant site ‘unlawful’

Site of the former GM stamping plant

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Ambrose Property Group responded to the City of Indianapolis Thursday about the City threatening to take ownership of the former General Motors stamping plant by eminent domain.

Ambrose currently owns the site, but recently scrapped a $1.38 billion mixed-use development called “Waterside” for the site on the western edge of downtown Indianapolis. Part of the property was recently acquired by the Indianapolis Zoo as they plan expansion.

On Oct. 2, The City of Indianapolis sent Ambrose a letter, saying in part, “If Ambrose would prefer to avoid the delay and expense of a court process, we would welcome the opportunity to begin negotiating acquisition of the property immediately…If not, we will pursue the eminent domain process to its conclusion.”

On Thursday, Ambrose responded. Founder and CEO Aasif Bade issued this statement:

“Last month, Ambrose Property Group announced its intent to pursue the sale of our mixed-use and office projects, including Waterside, as we reposition our business to focus on e-commerce and industrial development both in Indianapolis and nationally. Following our announcement, the City of Indianapolis unlawfully threatened to take Waterside through eminent domain.

“The City’s actions are unfortunate and problematic on several fronts. First, by threatening the use of eminent domain, the City has breached the parties’ contract which clearly states that the City has no authority to take Waterside. In addition, eminent domain proceedings should only be used to address serious problems such as public nuisances and blighted houses—not a highly valuable property that has had millions invested in it.

“The City is attempting to use eminent domain to interrupt an otherwise competitive market sale process with numerous possible buyers in an effort to ensure that the City is the only bidder. We continue to believe that a common ground solution that does not include a court fight would be best for everyone, but if we have to, we will engage in litigation to protect our rights.

“Ambrose’s top priority has always been—and continues to be—what is best for Waterside, the surrounding communities, and Indianapolis. We are disappointed by the City’s attempt to disrupt the process of selling Waterside to a buyer who has similar goals.

“As a community-minded real estate company, Ambrose is willing to discuss with the City the best path forward for Waterside and welcomes the City’s participation if it wants to be a productive part of the process. But that process must involve putting the parties back in the positions they occupied before the City began making its illegal and baseless threats to take Waterside from its rightful owner.”

Ambrose also sent the following letter to Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett:

Mayor Hogsett’s office responded Thursday with this statement:

“While we are still reviewing today’s letter from Ambrose’s legal counsel, it is obviously not the response that we – or neighborhood leaders – were hoping to receive.

“As we made clear in our initial letter, the city’s preference is to reach an agreement with Ambrose that will ensure a future for this site in keeping with both its potential and prior development commitments.

“We stand ready to begin those conversations, and remain optimistic that they will produce productive outcomes for the property and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

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