INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A pair of giant construction cranes looms high above the site of the new Community Justice Center campus taking shape on Indianapolis’ near east side.
Now that foundations have been poured for the Assessment and Intervention Center on the site, the first walls have been erected.
“Because we’ve made such substantial progress, I think folks are excited to see the actual frame of the building going up,” said Tim Moriarty, Special Counsel to Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Right now the deep foundations are in, the surface foundations as we speak, and I think in the coming months you’ll see structural steel go up.”
The progress stunned Brenda McAtee, president of the Twin Aire Coalition, who viewed the campus site from a new location just south of the Kroger store near the intersection of East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive and Southeastern Avenue where she admitted she had never been before.
“I see progress, and not only do I see it, my neighbors and everything, they see different stuff, so, everybody’s getting excited now.”
Hogsett has promised to open the entire campus in 2022 at a cost of $585 million, financed within the current budget and with no new taxes.
The Assessment and Intervention Center, intended to evaluate and refer mentally ill and addicted arrestees into treatment as opposed to jail, will open next fall.
“While the Assessment and Intervention Center is being completed, you will also see substantial progress being made on the larger facilities,” said Moriarty, “which are the new courthouse and the new detention center. You’ll see structural steel going up and folks will be working through the fall, through the winter, and into the spring on getting that steel up and essentially getting the walls in place.”
The campus, which has been a topic for political ads as Hogsett runs for re-election, will eventually house a new courthouse, sheriffs office and 3,000-bed jail.
Phase II of the project will add juvenile detention facilities and a fire training academy for an additional $40 million, again, city officials say, funded within the budget and without a tax increase.
“We now believe we have enough space out there to include a juvenile detention facility which will connect with the courthouse so we can now have family courts in our court system, which will be a revolutionary change to Marion County,” said Moriarty. “We’re looking at constructing a new fire training academy so that for the first time in forty years the Indianapolis Fire Department will have their own training facility and won’t have to go to other departments to train.”
The site was the former home of the Citizens Energy Coke Plant which dumped industrial coke deposits onto the land for nearly 100 years.
Moriarty said Citizens has completed its soil and water remediation along Pleasant Run Creek in order to make the area environmentally safe for employees, visitors and offenders who will be housed inside the jail.
Brenda McAtee said neighbors have noticed a cleaner community since the remediation and construction began.
“It was awful, the soot and stuff stayed on our houses, and in the neighborhood and everything. We cleaned the house and it would get back in, so, this is 100 plus here. It’s clean now, we can breathe easier and you can tell when you are breathing air that is not clean, so we can breathe easier now.”
McAtee surveyed a large vacant stretch of land north of the campus where developers have taken interest in bringing support retail to the area.
“I see homes, I see a park where you can have rugby, a park where you can do all kind of things in one park,” she said. “I see different restaurants and pop shops and everything neatly and where you can walk the streets without getting hurt.
“It’s just gonna be a gorgeous place to live once it’s all said and done. You gonna want to live on the south side,”
City officials are planning a hard hat tour of the campus site in October for stakeholders and neighbors.