GREENWOOD, Ind.––The Greenwood City Council last week approved the city’s $15 million share of an $83 million plan to transform the former Greenwood Middle School property into a new hub for activity in the downtown area.
Public funds, from TIF-backed bond financing, will be used for infrastructure that will include a city-owned 500 space parking garage, street and utility upgrades, and an additional 450 surface parking spaces.
The city partnered with CRG and Great Lakes Capital for the project. $68 million in private investment will cover cost of construction of 7 total buildings including about 300 apartments, 40 condos and 15 town homes. The rest of the site will be include about 18,000 square feet of commercial space, including restaurants, retail and more.
The new construction will eventually surround the former Greenwood Middle School gym, which is already being converted into a field house that will include indoor basketball, pickle ball, batting cages, indoor golf simulators, an indoor turf field and a raised walking track on the building’s second level.
“This will by far be the largest project the city has ever done and invested in,” said Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers. “It’s something that I am incredibly excited about. It’s going to really change the footprint of downtown Greenwood.”
As momentum for the project builds toward construction, city leaders are also responding to concerns from residents who live nearby.
“Well, I have eleven grandchildren so I’m concerned about the traffic going through here,” said Sandy Johnson, who lives on Orchard Lane, directly across the street from the development site. “I think we need sidewalks to help slow traffic down, bring the sidewalks in both sides, curbs.”
Johnson and several of her neighbors say too many drivers already use their small neighborhood street as a bypass to get around the major roundabout system at U.S. 31, Smith Valley Road, Madison Avenue and Meridian Street. They worry that additional traffic brought in by the new residential and commercial space will only make the situation worse.
“Orchard Lane is going to become a major thoroughfare,” said Margaret Collins. “And that’s going to have concern for us on this street.”
Mayor Myers pointed to a traffic study that showed city streets will be able to handle additional traffic brought by the development, especially after planned improvements to Madison Avenue and Smith Valley Road are completed. However, he also said traffic concerns from nearby residents will be addressed.
“In the master plan, there is plans for upgrading sidewalks through that area,” Myers said. “We’ll probably put some ‘no through truck’ signs in there, local delivery only.”
“I wouldn’t say it satisfies me, it encourages me, it makes me more positive about the project,” Collins said.
Like Collins and Johnson, Greenwood City Councilman Brad Pendleton supports the overall project. However, he also has concerns about how neighborhood worries will be addressed.
“It’s the follow-up that matters,” Pendleton said. “It’s not just on the developer, it’s on the city council, it’s on the Mayor. That’s on us as elected officials to make sure that happens.”
Some residents have also brought up concerns about 300 apartment units attracting crime to the area. Pendleton says that’s not something we worries about with this project.
Likewise, Mayor Myers said the upscale nature of the apartments, town homes, condos and business space is not likely to increase crime.
“It’s not going to be a Broad Ripple party town type of atmosphere, it’s going to be family-oriented,” Myers said. “Nice restaurants, good dining, good places to go visit, coffee houses to sit down and chat. And that does not bring crime to the area.”
Myers also said efforts are underway to hire more officers in order to add to the ranks of the Greenwood Police Department, which is currently under-staffed.
Once financing for the project is handled, two-and-a half years of construction is expected to begin in the early third quarter of this year.