Local Government and Taxes and City-County Council and Government & Economic Development and Government

Neighborhoods back new 'north-midtown' TIF area

September 17, 2012

The Indianapolis City-County Council will have more than one big tax-increment finance issue to consider at a meeting Monday night.

A new TIF district stretching from Fall Creek to White River along College Avenue will be introduced at the same meeting where the council is expected to vote on a controversial expansion of the downtown TIF to include Massachusetts Avenue and 16th Street. Mayor Greg Ballard has proposed expanding the boundaries of the downtown TIF to motivate redevelopment in key sections of the city. 

Council Vice President Brian Mahern and members of a TIF study commission have questioned the wisdom of creating and expanding TIF districts because they capture increases in property tax revenue that otherwise would flow to city coffers. Mahern tried to block the downtown TIF expansion while the council considers a new set of TIF policies, but he was overriden by fellow Democrats.

Some Democrats are also backing creation of the "north midtown" TIF to pay for various neighborhood projects, which proponents hope will spark further redevelopment in the area.

The first of those “catalyst” projects would likely be financed with property-tax revenue from Keystone Construction Corp's $15 million parking garage and retail space in Broad Ripple, said John Barth, an at-large City-County councilor and one of four sponsors of the proposed north-midtown TIF. The other sponsors are fellow Democrats Steve Talley and Monroe Gray and Republican Will Gooden.

While the garage would provide a financial kickstart, Barth said, it's not the driving force behind creating the TIF district. Barth hopes that factor will win over councilors who see TIF districts being created or expanded to provide subsidies for large commercial developments. Keystone's project was financed in part through a different public source, $6.5 million in parking meter revenue.

"We have worked hard to reach out to people and explain how what we're doing is different than the downtown TIF," he said. "It’s neighborhood, up.”

The projects could include face-lifts for storefronts around 30th and Illinois streets, or improvements to Tarkington Park, among other things, Barth said. The decisions will rest with a new Midtown Economic Council, composed of representatives from each affected neighborhood, he said. The TIF area would encompass 748 acres of land with an assessed value of $361.7 million, or 44 percent of the surrounding economic development area.

The economic development area, defined last year, covers seven neighborhoods along the College Avenue-Monon Trail Corridor: Broad Ripple, Butler-Tarkington, Chatard-Forest Hills, Crown Hill, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Mapleton-Fall Creek and Meridian Kessler.

The proposed TIF area covers commercial and multifamily residential property along the College-Monon corridor, plus 38th Street in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood and Central Avenue from around 34th Street to Fall Creek.

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