Developer sues city in dispute over former GM stamping plant site


Site of the former GM stamping plant

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The company behind the scrapped Waterside project at the old GM stamping plant site filed a lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis.

In September, Ambrose Property Group called off plans for the $1.3 billion mixed-use project and announced its intention to sell the property. That decision led to the city’s threat to take ownership of the site through eminent domain.

Ambrose responded with a statement calling the city’s pursuit of eminent domain “unfortunate” and “problematic.” Now the company has taken a step further, filing a lawsuit accusing the city of breaching its agreement with Ambrose and violating Indiana’s Constitution.

The company said the city’s threat “scared off several potential buyers” interested in developing the property. Ambrose is asking for an injunction blocking the city from invoking eminent domain.

When asked for a response, the city said it wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Here’s Ambrose’s statement on the matter (read the lawsuit here):

Our company filed a lawsuit today against the City of Indianapolis for breaching its agreement with Ambrose and for violating the Indiana Constitution. We are disappointed it has come to this, but the City’s illegal threats and actions have left us with no option but to protect our rights through a lawsuit.

Our contract stated the City would not seek to take the GM stamping plant property, otherwise known as Waterside, via eminent domain. That provision was in the contract because the City had previously threatened to take the property, and we needed assurance the City would not try to take it again. Accordingly, the contract protected us from the City trying to take the land. Based on that promise, we invested millions in the redevelopment of the property.

Yet, on October 2, 2019, the City publicly declared it was going to take the property through eminent domain and that it had already set the process in motion. Those actions not only breached the contract, but scared off several potential buyers who were interested in moving forward with development at Waterside. The City’s unlawful threats have thus frozen all activity at the site because no developer will invest in the property until the City’s threats are removed.

By trying to take the property through eminent domain, the City has also violated the Indiana Constitution, as it protects property owners from having their land taken solely so the City can give it to another private party.

The sooner this dispute is resolved, the sooner our community can begin to reap the benefits of the property’s development. We look forward to a resolution of this matter.

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