Interstates/Highways and State Government and I-465 and State Agencies and Street Improvements and Government & Economic Development and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

I-465 widening may require buyout of several buildings

July 28, 2008

Several landmark commercial properties fronting Interstate 465 on the northeast side could be in the path of bulldozers when the state begins adding lanes as early as 2012.

Memos prepared by a consulting firm to the Indiana Department of Transportation go as far as estimating acquisition prices for buildings, including that of country station WFMS-FM 95.5 and other Cumulus Media stations at 6810 N. Shadeland Ave.

One map by Corradino LLC shows the radio building's parking lot crossed by a right-of-way border envisioned after INDOT adds a travel lane in each direction of I-465.

The building would go from a 9-iron shot away from I-465 to a chip shot.

Corradino, which said it worked with INDOT's own real estate experts to arrive at approximate building values, lists a price of $3.5 million for the Cumulus property.

The total value of six larger buildings identified between Shadeland Station to the north and the 6800 block of Shadeland Avenue, to the south, is pegged at more than $22 million.

The most expensive--a newer, brick office complex at 7400 N. Shadeland Ave.--is estimated to cost $7 million. The building, whose tenants include Wells Fargo Insurance, is already perilously close to I-465. The consultant's map shows the future right-of-way line running directly through the building.

Phone calls to the real estate firms that lease space in the commercial buildings were not returned. The buildings are owned by several limited partnerships.

The cost estimates were "to obtain a rough idea of potential right-of-way costs," Corradino said. "That will help determine where right-of-way impacts should be absolutely avoided versus where impacts shouldn't necessarily be avoided."

As a practical matter, INDOT could avoid impact on the commercial buildings by shunting the interstate slightly in the other direction, to the west, which is lined with residential properties.

There are dozens of houses on the west side of the highway, with "$250,000 ... typical for this neighborhood," according to a memo.

The memo cautions that land values "are based on very little knowledge about individual parcels, and the costs identified are very rough."

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said not to read too much into the consultant's report.

"We kind of take a wide swath of what we think the maximum impact could be" during design, Wingfield said. "This is the maximum right-of-way we think could be potentially impacted ... . This is just a really rough ballpark."

In the event INDOT needed to acquire the commercial buildings, or at least big chunks of their parking lots, right-of way acquisition discussions don't usually begin until the design is at least 30-percent completed.

INDOT earlier this month awarded a design contract for the project worth up to $46.6 million to San Francisco-based engineering giant URS Corp.

But many of the tenants in the buildings along I-465 didn't realize they might be sideswiped by the I-465 project.

Chris Wheat, general manager of Cumulus' Indianapolis radio properties, said he was approached last fall by a real estate firm concerning a possible sale and lease-back of the building. But as for possible displacement for the highway project, "this is news to me."

Same for Robert W. York, whose law firm is at 7212 N. Shadeland Ave.

"We've been there since 1984," said York, who said the location is good for interstate access--though he never imagined it directly from his parking lot.

The planned $567 million widening and rebuilding of eight miles of I-465 and two miles of I-69 is one of the largest of the state's so-called "Major Moves" highway improvement projects. Major Moves is funded partly by proceeds from the $3.8 billion leasing of the Indiana toll road to an Australian-Spanish consortium.

Commuters have long accused INDOT of twiddling thumbs even as populations on the northeast side and in Hamilton County soared over the last 15 years.

Particularly congested is I-69 at I-465 and northbound I-465 between Fall Creek and Allisonville Road.

The I-465 work will consist of new interchanges at Keystone Avenue and Allisonville Road. An intricate new ramp system will be built at the I-69 interchange. Also, new through-lanes will be added on each side of I-465 for about eight miles, from just east of Meridian Street to Fall Creek.

The I-69 work also includes building collector-distributor corridors around 82nd Street that would segregate local traffic so vehicles on the interstate can flow.

Corradino's preliminary right-of-way drawings on this stretch show a Hampton Inn hotel at 82nd Street could be in the way. The estimated cost for the hotel is $8 million.

Almost certainly doomed are a handful of smaller commercial buildings on the northwest corner of the I-69/ I-465 interchange. A prominent tenant, August Mack Environmental, recently moved to new headquarters at 1200 N. Meridian St.

Although construction work likely won't start for three years, surveying crews have been busy marking areas along the interstates and looking for buried utility lines.

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