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Lawrence Village inks J.C. Hart deal, seeks retail developer

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The Fort Harrison Reuse Authority has approved the sale of 6.6 acres at Otis Avenue and Wheeler Road to Carmel-based J.C. Hart Co. for the development of a 217-unit apartment community.

The $1.2 million sale, approved May 20, is the latest in the effort to develop Lawrence Village at the Fort—a planned unit development of approximately 120 acres between 56th Street and 59th streets and Post and Lee roads.

The sale to J.C. Hart, which has an option to buy another 1.5 acres, leaves approximately 50 acres of Lawrence Village undeveloped. That property is carved into eight development sites that are being marketed to retail and residential developers and end users, said Kris Butler, executive director of the reuse authority.

The sites, which range in size from 1 to 20 acres, are listed for between $125,000 and $250,000 an acre.

Butler is in Las Vegas this week at the International Council of Shopping Centers Convention trying to drum up interest in two parcels covering about 26 acres on the north side of 56th Street that are earmarked for retail use. Several restaurants have expressed interest in locating in Lawrence Village, she said, but the reuse authority hasn’t yet found a retail developer willing to take the plunge.

Bob Gallant, director of business development for Browning Investments, said the market for retail in the area is driven by its growing residential population but also by the 5,000 people working at the nearby Army Finance Center and the more than 7,000 students enrolled in Ivy Tech Community College, which has a campus within Lawrence Village. Browning was hired by the reuse authority to help plan and market Lawrence Village.

The development also includes the Benjamin Harrison YMCA and the 400-unit Benjamin Court senior housing complex, which Butler said is 100 percent leased.

She said she’s in negotiations with a company that wants to relocate its headquarters and between 50 and 60 employees to a three-acre site within Lawrence Village. A local hospital is also shopping for land there, Butler said.

Aiding the sales effort is the recent completion of $9 million in infrastructure improvements, including new streets, landscaping, lighting and underground utilities.

Butler said J.C. Hart’s plans will help the cause of bringing more retail to the 56th Street corridor. Architectural drawings of the $17 million apartment community are expected to be ready by August. The reuse authority could approve the plans as early as September and ground should be broken next summer, Butler said.

The mostly one- and two-bedroom units will rent for between $700 and $1,000 a month.
 

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  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

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