Airport site identified as 'preferred' for criminal-justice complex

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Marion Superior Court judges on Monday heard an update on a proposed criminal justice complex, and one asked if “we can put to rest” speculation that the county's courts and jail would move to a site at Indianapolis International Airport.

“As far as location, no decision has been made,” David Rosenberg, director of enterprise development for the city, responded during a general term meeting of the judges at the City-County Building.

But the airport site emerged as the recommended site in a market survey of 14 potential sites conducted for the city by the real estate services firm CBRE.

“Given criteria outlined previously and the site specific pros and cons, and pursuant to a scoring matrix — it is CBRE’s recommendation that the Indianapolis International Airport be identified as the preferred site for the Criminal Justice Complex,” the survey says.

The site identified is 35 acres on the airport fringe near West Washington Street, east of Raceway Road. CBRE said the site’s strengths include current control by a municipal corporation, immediate availability and room for future expansion.

Its location far from the city center is the chief weakness listed, and the survey notes the development could require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

CBRE also evaluated these other sites as a potential location for the Criminal Justice Complex, listing pros and cons for each:

— Lafayette Square Mall north of West 38th Street on Lafayette Road

— A strip mall site south of Lafayette Square Mall at 3749 Commercial Dr.

— City-owned South Grove Golf Course at 1800 W. 18th St.

— The former Indiana Women’s Prison, now a re-entry educational facility, at East New York and Randolph streets

— The former RCA/Thomson Consumer Electronics site at 604 N. Sherman Dr.

— The Citizen’s Coke Plant at 2900 Prospect St.

— Various commercial properties at Interstate 465 and Pendleton Pike

— The former Eastgate Mall site at 401 N. Shadeland Dr.

— The former Ford Visteon plant at 6900 English Ave.

— 60 acres near the Marion County Fairgrounds at the northeast corner of Southeastern Avenue and Five Points Road

— 153 acres north of Southeastern Avenue, east of Arlington Avenue

— 43 acres near Kentucky Avenue and Camby Road

— The former General Motors metal-stamping plant, 340 S. White River Parkway W. Dr.

The CBRE study said it would provide a “backup” preferred site if the city requested. CBRE noted the survey was preliminary and no property owners had been contacted as part of its analysis.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Marion County Sheriff John Layton and other city and county officials announced they would take proposals for a criminal justice complex in December. The initial responses to requests for qualifications from potential developers are due Feb. 11, and Rosenberg told judges the city expected “solid teams from all over the world” to reply.

But some attorneys who practice in the criminal courts aren’t sold on an airport site or any site away from downtown.

A lawyer who attended a recent presentation to the Indianapolis Bar Association said most preferred the stamping plant location as a site for a Criminal Justice Complex.

The former GM stamping plant site is the second-highest rated by CBRE.

CBRE graded each site on a scale of 1 to 10 for size, location, use, access, speed to development, limitations and impact. The site near the Marion County Fairgrounds ranked third, closely followed by the South Grove Golf Course site and the other site near the fairgrounds along Southeastern Avenue. The former Indiana Women’s Prison site rated lowest.

Marion Superior Executive Committee Chairman Judge David Certo said judges want to understand the needs of the practicing bar, but also said the IndyBar for years has been calling for development of a criminal justice complex.

“There are always trade-offs,” Certo said. “Nobody has offered White River State Park” as a potential site.

The complex is meant to consolidate Marion County Jail facilities, criminal courts, prosecutor, public defender, probation and other court-affiliate public offices that currently are spread around downtown Indianapolis into a central location.

It’s unclear how much a proposed complex could cost, but officials have said the reduction in duplication of services and the efficiencies that would be gained would allow for construction of the site without a tax increase.

The request for qualifications sets out parameters for the complex, calling for total construction of facilities covering 1.4 million square feet, or roughly the size of seven to eight typical Walmart Supercenters.

A timeline for the project calls for the City-County Council to receive a proposal from the selected developer in September with a groundbreaking early next year and an opening in late 2018.

“The process appears to be moving quickly,” Certo said.  


  • WOW
    The lack of vision and urban development knowledge displayed in these comments is astounding! Anyone who suggests we should just tear down the old criminal justice system and build a new one RIGHT ACROSS the damn street, on one of the PRIME parcels in all of downtown Indianapolis, loses ALL credibility right off the bat. Just a completely sill thought. And why do some of you act like the GM site is on another continent, for Pete's sake?!? For all intents and purposes, it's STILL downtown. Hell, I could ride a bike from the current jail to this newly proposed location in a matter of minutes. It's not as though it's going to suck all these jobs and office tenants out of the core of downtown. All those people are STILL going to be eating downtown. For the most part, they'll probably maintain their offices in the more desirable core of downtown, when possible. And some totally prime real estate right in the heart of the city is going to come available for redevelopment. Win, win, win. I don't know how anyone can see it as otherwise. Sorry...
  • Where the action is
    Why would a Marion Country Judge move from downtown where all the action is to some recycled hole on the other side of the river. To become the butt of jokes from all the other judges from around the country. There is a nice, empty parking lot between the Jail and the City County building that is the perfect site. And it's not going to make a some private company rich.
  • Use MSA Site
    I have to chime in with the others here...the city owns the MSA properties, currently flat parking, and there's at least one other large abandoned building adjacent. Flaherty & Collins failed to provide requested information on its proposed $81 million high-rise project for that space...let them rework their plans for the White River location or someplace else, and put this new Justice Center on the MSA site, consolidating the adjacent abandoned buildings in the process.
  • Hello Mr. Simon
    Uh, when did the city purchase Lafayette Square Mall? Don't we already own the old airport site? Building there makes the most sense. Lots and lots of free parking. IndyGo could run express routes from the downtown area. Plus this frees up valuable real estate by demolishing the current jail and MCSD offices at 40 S. Alabama. As far as potential jurors being inconvenienced, don't they pull from the entire county, not just the downtown area? So the airport could actually be closer and more convenient? A lot of jurors are intimated to drive downtown and find a place to park.
  • Really
    Does the city seriously want to put a prison on the White River right next to the zoo, the state museum,Victory Field and the park? Hello... families, field trips and children.
  • Great idea!
    I say bring the jobs and everything to the west side. THis stuff doesn't belong downtown anyway, and I sure don't like riding the elevator with criminal defendants when I'm going to pay a tax bill or register to vote at CCB. This should be seperated
  • Stay downtown!
    Having been a west side resident for many years, I can guarantee you that the local residents don't want this in our neighborhood. The last thing we want is more traffic, criminals, and lawyers (repeating myself) in our area. Besides, the location makes no sense. I'd guess that CBRE has some undisclosed financial interest in recommending that location. Why else so far from downtown?
  • Worried...
    So when the jail is moved out of downtown, and all the attendant supporting services go with it (attorneys, etc.) we're supposed to worry about not being able to fill office space and whether or not enough people will be eating lunch at City Market? Talk about lack of vision. The opportunity is to create a cutting edge criminal justice system elsewhere so we can create a more vibrant downtown, eventually filling all the vacant office space and creating demand for more. Yeah, this is a vague vision that you have to take with a healthy dose of faith. It won't happen overnight. Hi Tree! Welcome to the Forest.
  • Location
    Central location(s) seems more preferred and there are several noted. Have to agree on the "cutting downtown" comment. Near East Washington Street location and parcels around Ivy Tech automotive could be assembled. Also the State of Indiana has an operation very close to the old King David operation off Kentucky Ave.
  • CBD Office Market
    This seems like a bad idea. It will remove a great deal of attorneys, clerks, etc. from downtown, and will create a long-term drag on the downtown office market, as attorneys and other professionals move to wherever the complex ends up. Places like City Market and other surrounding restaurants would suffer. The overall daytime vibrancy of downtown would decrease. Just a bad idea - find a way to keep it downtown!
    • Stop these Ballard Buffoons
      Liars, so exactly what was the savings from the Police Merger? Cost efficiencies? If you need additional jail space Build them tent camps on the edge of town. Buy ten year old church buses to transport them to court and stop talking about this crap. Do not give away the MSA Site but use the MSA Site to actually build a professional and secure looking Court System. Move the Marion County Prosecutors and Public Defenders back into the City County Building. Problem solved. Defense attorneys happy, judges happy, people that use the system happy. People unhappy Ballard Cronies. Again problem solved. Go build condos and such on the old GM site with your own money.
    • Seriously
      Once again our Mayor is doing something not to benefit the public, but to reward a campaign contributor of his, this time CCA who he wants to give ownership of the justice facility to while we taxpayers pay rent. CCA wants the airport facility so that it can pursue federal prisoners too. The airport location though is a horrible, horrible idea, by far the worst location of those mentioned. The stamping plant or Lafayette Square is probably the best locations.
    • Todd for mayor!
      Todd's got a good overview. Let the White River Plan continue the way it's going, with plans submitted for review, currently down to the Final Four, all great possibilities. Like the tail wagging the dog, don't let whiny lawyers dictate the best use of city resources & long-term planning for all Circle City citizens.
    • Lafayette Square
      I agree that the Lafayette Square Mall site would be best. It is still pretty close to DT, and it allows four areas to open up for development. 1. Stamping plant for condos/office 2. MSA area for more housing/ offices 3. The airport for aviation or logestics 4. LSM for the government project. This makes most since to this observer.
      • Citzens vs lawyers
        The city should redevelopment the Lafayette Mall with the new Jail! This space has two interstate access points, its on a bus line and could have a light rail system easily installed to connect it to downtown. It is close enough to downtown all the lawyers could commute unless they wanted to relocate. The GM plant needs to be redeveloped by the private sector to help increase property values and the tax base of Indianapolis. The need of the people not layers needs to be placed first. Politicians need to do the right thing here!!
      • What???
        Let's say you've got jury duty and you have to go way out to the airport???? That's not convenient at all.
      • Not the GM Stamping Plant
        I know CBRE is performed their "analysis", but as a 6 year resident of downtown, the GM Stamping area is ripe for new development vs. wasting it with government property. It is basically on the opposite side of railroad tracks across from the Zoo and would be a great tie in to the White River State Park / Zoo area. There are several new condo and apartments that have gone in on Harding Street by the GM Stamping Plant. Developers should continue to build up that area, the way they already have. It would be a great portal into downtown and has beautiful appeal right off the White River.
      • It's for
        So 'service to the public' should be the primary criteria in deciding. Guess what the Wishard Clinic system just did? They built a new clinic out by Lafayette Square on 38th Street (repurposing an existing big-box space previously used by an electronics retailer) because...drum roll please...that location was the best location to serve their patient population. And they added space for other wrap-around services at that facility as well. I'm not saying put a criminal justice center in a high-crime area or neighborhood for the sake of convenience for the criminals, but understand your audience, the users of teh criminal justice system. Yeah, I know, the judges and attorneys, and document firms, and bail bondsmen should be the priority, right? Wrong - we need to serve the people that are using the public facility, because they're all innocent until proven guilty.
      • Another great idea from Mayor Ballard
        This new justice center will be great for the city and will save a great deal of money. Just goes to show the great leadership from Mayor Ballard. Hopefully the democrats don't find a way to mess it up.
      • Use of abandoned space...
        Why not use up some of the abandoned spaces in town - I don't think the airport property is appropriate for this type of project. I recently saw story on proposal for GM Stamping plant to expand White River Part -much better idea than a criminal justice complex I would say -that area is land-locked for expansion if GM plant is not used -my opinion!

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