City predicts rising property values around justice center

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Mayor Greg Ballard’s deputies predict that a new justice center will have a positive impact on near-west-side property values.

It might be counterintuitive to imagine climbing property values in the vicinity of a 3,600-bed detention facility. And to be sure, most of the studies cited by the Mayor’s Office conclude that jails are neutral in their impact on neighborhoods.

The Mayor’s Office is willing to go a step further, however, considering that the new Marion County jail would be part of a larger campus hosting criminal courts and other justice-system functions. Between employees and court-system users, the center is expected to generate 3,600 visitors a day.

“We think it’ll help property values,” Director of Enterprise Development David Rosenberg told an audience of west-side residents at a meeting last Thursday.

The argument could be crucial for continuing to gather support for putting the new justice center on the grounds of the former General Motors stamping plant southwest of downtown and immediately west of White River. Ballard announced Friday that the city, through a request for proposals, will instruct bidders to design their plans for part of the GM site.

Once the Mayor’s Office chooses a private-sector partner, the City-County Council will have to approve a long-term lease between the city and justice center developer.

“My vote on the lease, no matter which site it ends up at, will be based on the neighbors’ thoughts at that time,” Republican City-County Councilor Jeff Miller said Friday. His district includes the GM site.

“So the administration must turn the high-level concepts we saw last night into a real plan,” Miller said.

Kurt Flock, a residential real estate broker who specializes in the near-downtown area, thinks the justice center probably will prompt commercial redevelopment, but he said a residential revival would take a concerted master-planning effort by city hall.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen unless the development is identical to Fall Creek Place,” Flock said, referring to the revitalized neighborhood north of downtown between 22nd Street and Fall Creek.

Neighborhoods southwest of downtown suffer high vacancy rates, and residential areas are side-by-side with industry.

"It lacks a cohesive neighborhood fabric that you find in so many areas in the northeast quadrant right now," Flock said.

The city plans to use about 40 acres in the northwest corner of the GM site while leaving the remaining 60-plus acres to another developer. The entity that controls the GM site, the Michigan-based RACER Trust, has yet to announce its choice of developer for the majority of the property.

Rosenberg and Adam Collins, deputy director for economic development, showed west-side residents potential plans for the city’s portion of the GM site, along with conceptual architectural renderings. Rosenberg said the jail would be “buried” within the justice center campus in order to minimize its impact on the surrounding area.

The city’s promises of infrastructure improvement and economic benefits seem to be overcoming objections to the presence of inmates, at least for some residents. Rosenberg and Collins fielded questions about how the city could encourage justice center users to travel off-campus for meals, and what it would take for people who work at the justice center to consider living on the west side.

Collins said the justice center will have limited on-site retail, so there will be a need for restaurants and other services in the surrounding area.

“We are confident it will raise property values,” Collins said.  

The main independent study of the impact of new jails cited by Ballard’s team goes back to 1987. It was conducted for the National Institute of Corrections by Florida Atlantic University/Florida International University’s Government Center for Environmental and Urban Problems. That study determined that “land values, public safety and quality of life were not adversly affected by the presence of correctional facilities.”

More recently, Seattle-based consultant Berk & Associates has concluded, “In general, studies have shown that the presence of a correctional facility does not create additional crime in the community, but among community members there may be a perception that crime is more prevalent.”

Last year, the firm conducted a study on the potential impact of a new jail in Ferndale, Wash., and found it would not have a negative impact on surrounding industrial sites. “There is some potential for impact to the nearby residential uses,” Berk concluded, according to The Bellingham Herald.


  • LOL
    Do any of you people even bother informing yourselves before coming on here to whine? This is NOT taking the entire area. It will NOT be right on the riverfront. It WILL be an improvement to the area
  • Glad to read
    Those of us "Filthy" people would remember GM stamping has been gone for years .... get real and know what you are talking about ! This may even be the second "management" group since the plant closed June 30, 2011 but then you are an attorney I think ! but then would an educated person cast aspersions on others that work every day and have real knowledge of life. Maybe since you are such a brilliant person and of such means that you can talk in such a manner about others you should exercise your options and buy the site out from its problems and show us just how to make a go of this disaster the City is proposing ! roflol !!! maybe your engineering degree will tell you a way that GM could now figure out in its 80 year history there ! which once again ended in 2011 ! But you remember that I am sure and all your history of the plant and neighborhood.
  • Glad To Read
    I'm glad to read you're making personal attacks on my profession. It lets me know you have no real argument. Nothing had been done to date on that site because GM was actually using it before that plant shut down. It's only NOW that the GM stamping plant is shut down that proposals are coming up. You folks are not very smart in your replies. Thanks for the salary critique. It just so happens if you pair an engineering degree with a law degree, you can make some bank. I wouldn't expect you to understand though, just like you don't understand how to develop the former GM site.
    • GM site
      As I recall my formative years growing up in a neighborhood very near the GM stamping plant location it will not be a far distance for those in the jail, those visiting the jail or those going to the courts to travel. The area around the site is not the "garden of Eden" so many are proposing it to be. Further if there are, were and will be so many great uses for the location why has nothing been done there to date ?? this location did not just become available last week !!!! please let move on to real social problem our area has plenty !
    • Reply to Kent
      Kent, at least you're admitting that the jails will be "out of the way" inferring that they are "in the way". What business owner is going to build on land where the jail is the anchor for the site? That's like saying a Big Lots would bring upscale development to a nearby strip mall. There is no doubt that business will pop up. Just not the kinds we want for a riverfront White River State Park area. I hope they at least put up some nice looking barbed wire. Maybe green colored so that it blends in with the trees? Sounds like you work for the Office of the Mayor.
    • east 2/3 of site still availalbe!
      The jail and courts will be mostly be out of the way tucked to the northwest corner of this massive site. The 'entire' eastern 2/3 of the site will be available for the Riverfront development. Trails, streetscapes, eateries, bars, downtown views all remain as an option, but only if the developers use their worth to pull it off. The WRS Park appearance could also continue south while the courts and jail are hidden in that NW corner. The Oliver Avenue frontage will also remain available. This is a BIG site folks!
    • I know that neighborhood
      Yes, I know that neighborhood like the back of my hand. I lived there for 7 years while attending IUPUI undergrad and law school. The place is going to fill up with bail bonds and checks cashed filth. The point is there were OTHER, BETTER options!!! It's downtown waterfront by Victory Field and White River State Park. Have a vision!
      • Really?
        Have any of you been to this area lately??? If they transported the slums of Bombay into this site, it would be an improvement to this neighborhood!
      • Have you been in that neighborhood over the last 20 years? A correctional facility would be an improvement. Add to it the number of visitors from low income family members and poorly paid staff to wealthier judges and lawyers, it will attract development which will increase property values.
      • Airport??
        Who wants to drive to the airport for jury duty?? This would not be convenient at all. I say leave the jail where it is and the courts where they are. It's centrally located for everyone in downtown Indianaoplis.
      • Who do we thank for this?
        No one believes a jail is the best use of the GM site. We didn't all just fall off the turnip truck. Kent must be an attorney who doesn't want to drive to the airport to see his clients.
      • Disappointing
        This was an opportunity to take a large parcel of land that became available near downtown and do something to WOW people that visit our city. Instead what do they come up with, let's build a new a shiny justice center! What a disappointment. Many fought to keep it more centrally located downtown, which makes a lot of sense. We could have done something inspiring with the property to add to our city's attraction.
      • It Won't
        Kent, there WERE other options on the table to redevelop this site. It wasn't "build a jail" or nothing. You know better than that. A waterfront restaurant, office complexes would have been much more beneficial in building out the White River State Park atmosphere.
      • Why not the old terminal location?
        Why isn't the city considering the old airport terminal site (not the NW corner of the airport property)? This site is already set up for this type of facility. It has easy access (right off of 465) and the county already owns the land. Also, there are no suitors for this site. The GM site has at least 5 great opportunities that would be a benefit to area. Homeowners would lose property value with a jail. I hope common sense prevails.
        • It will work out!
          With 60 acres of private development, buffering the justice complex, and the Oliver Ave. street front potential for commercial redevelopment, this will all work out for the better. That neighborhood made no real effort the last 40-50 years to improve itself much, and this will help it. Just getting the old industrial atmosphere demolished and cleaned up will be dramatic, and I am very glad to see the Administration found all the earlier reports that substantiate the fact that no negative impact should or will occur due to a jail and courts being there.
          • Baloney
            You know darned well that having a jail and the rest of the dysfunctional mess will not boost property value one bit. The CityCounty Building attracts so much of the dregs of society and if moved they will be over in the "new" neighborhood milling around. I sure wouldn't want my house near that location. Remember the woman's prison between E. New York Street and E Michigan? That was the garden spot of the city wasn't it???
          • Bail Bonds
            Yeah, having a bunch of bail bonds around will spark a whole new block of development! Maybe a couple Checks Cashed places and a Rally's will beef property values up as well. Or maybe by "increased property value" they mean, you will increasingly value your own property, b/c you don't want to get it stolen by all the inmates friends who will be visiting their homies in the pin.

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