The stated preferred location for the new criminal justice center, 6600 Kentucky Ave., is attractive on a first-cost basis because it is bare farm ground. However, looking at the benefits of this project long-term, this site would be a mistake.
Bill Hudnut’s Urban Land Institute is looking at ways to bring needed employment by finding reuses for old industrial areas. Placing the center in one of these areas would bring economic activity through construction, employment and new businesses that would support the new center.
Also, Mayor Ballard in his State of the City address talked about the need to attract high-wage earners to address budget problems. Selecting Kentucky Avenue would do just the opposite.
This site is within a mile of Hendricks, Morgan and Johnson counties. Developers would build office space in Morgan or Johnson counties to attract the attorneys that interact with the criminal justice system. As the attorneys relocate their offices, downtown Indianapolis’ office vacancy rate would rise. And many would relocate their homes and families to these surrounding counties, as would many of the judges and staff.
While the cost of bare ground looks good on a first-cost basis, the city would miss a golden opportunity to strengthen a depressed neighborhood and add to the flight of good-paying jobs to the surrounding counties.