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City exploring Mass Ave redevelopment options

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Indianapolis’ economic development arm will begin exploring the feasibility of redeveloping city-owned property along Massachusetts Avenue and North New Jersey Street, Mayor Greg Ballard’s office announced Friday morning.

Sites to be studied include 555 N. New Jersey St., the location of Indianapolis Fire Department administrative offices and Station No. 7, as well as 501 N. New Jersey St., the location of the Firefighters Credit Union.

All three facilities will be relocated to nearby sites if redevelopment is feasible, the mayor said.

An upshot for the city is that the prime New Jersey Street property, which borders Massachusetts Avenue, could be sold to private developers, raising money for the city and potentially adding to the tax base.

“The Massachusetts Avenue site provides yet another opportunity for us to stimulate economic growth in an important area of our city,” Ballard said in a prepared statement. “With input from the neighborhood and business owners, we will consider what options provide maximum benefit to residents, visitors and merchants in this vibrant and growing district.”

The city has hired the local office of real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis to assess the sites and possible redevelopment options.

Develop Indy and city officials will seek public input on the project later this month or in early August. A final decision on whether to move forward with redevelopment is expected by late summer.

A key factor in the decision will be the cost of relocating the IFD facilities and the availability of alternative sites within close proximity to the current location.

Because Fire Station No. 7 serves the downtown high-rise district and surrounding neighborhoods, identifying a nearby site within the current service area is a critical requirement. City officials say they think proceeds from a redevelopment project could offset the cost of relocating the IFD facilities.

The moves are part of a real estate overhaul led by Public Safety Director Frank Straub to better connect police and fire services with the neighborhoods they serve, consolidate office space to save on lease expenses, and help spark revitalization in parts of the city that have been starved of investment.
 
Overall, the city’s Department of Public Safety wants to open police-and-fire hubs in two former IPS schools, retrofit a former Eastgate mall department store into an Emergency Operations Center, and build at least two fire stations.

 

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