New vision for Eastgate includes solar farm

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A former east-side shopping mall will soon be covered in solar panels, possibly the most transformative of property owner Alex Carroll’s various redevelopment efforts.

New Generation Power of Chicago plans to start work this fall on a 4-megawatt array covering about 17 acres of rooftop and parking lot at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall, which Carroll purchased in 2008 to house Lifeline Data Centers.

rop-apb-alexcarroll01-jump-15col.jpg Lifeline Data Centers owner Alex Carroll, 45, has a 15-year deal with New Generation Power of Chicago to install a solar array at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall. Carroll moved part of his data center business into the old mall after buying it in 2008. (IBJ photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Carroll’s data-center business occupies just one corner of the 450,000-square-foot building, however, and his plan to convert the rest to high-security office space has been slow to come to fruition.

The anchor tenant in that plan, the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety’s regional operations center, recently vacated the space over fire-safety concerns. Carroll disputes the alleged code violations and says he intends to sue the city for $600,000 his company spent on improvements that were the city’s responsibility.

The solar installation is compatible with future development because the parking-lot panels will be mounted on high poles and steel rafters, creating carports. “It’s essentially going to give future customers shaded parking,” Carroll said.

eastgate-factbox.gifNew Generation chose the Eastgate site, where it will spend about $3.5 million, because Lifeline is a big electricity user and it has enough space to accommodate the panels, Senior Vice President Michael Pontarelli said.

The Chicago firm also plans to install a smaller 1-megawatt array on metals recycler OmniSource’s South Holt Road property, Pontarelli said. He said New Generation signed a 15-year power-purchase agreement with IPL after responding to a request for proposals last year.

IPL required that the site hosting the installation use the same amount of electricity as will be sold to the grid, Pontarelli said. “This is something that’s very typical in the industry,” he said. “We’ll be seeing quite a lot more of this type of installation.”

Along with the power-purchase agreement, New Generation has a 15-year lease for the Eastgate site. Carroll declined to disclose the value of that deal.

Neighbors have supported Carroll’s plans, including the solar installation, because they represent such an improvement over the haven for drug use and prostitution the mall had become before Lifeline moved in, Eastgate Neighborhood Association President Sharon Tabard said.

The Eastgate solar array might be the most urban installation to come to Indianapolis. This spring, the Board of Zoning Appeals approved two solar farms covering 286 acres in Decatur and Franklin townships, over objections from residents from both areas.

The city’s Department of Metropolitan Development staff recommended the June zoning change that allows New Generation to install solar at Eastgate but noted that it isn’t compatible with the “village mixed-use” concept in long-term planning documents.

East-side residents accepted years ago that the defunct mall wouldn’t be redeveloped for retail, said Norm Pace of the Warren Township Development Organization. Simon Property Group had positioned it as a discount center in the 1980s and ’90s before selling it in 2002 to a North Carolina investor.

The building was slated for demolition when Carroll purchased it in 2008.

“Over the years, no one was stepping forward to do anything … and it was looking like it was going to be a pipe dream,” Pace said.

Though neighbors embraced Carroll, 45, as a property owner, they’ve also been frustrated by the slow pace of exterior improvements and landscaping he promised, Pace said. Neighborhood volunteers and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful Inc. pitched in to plant trees on the east side of the 40-acre site, along Shortridge Road.

“We wanted things to happen quicker, so we got involved in it,” he said.

Carroll said he’s invested $20 million into the Eastgate site, but much of it isn’t noticeable to passersby. Just this year, he said he finished re-roofing the building.

“The sluggishness of the market has definitely slowed down the exterior renovations we’d liked to have seen early on,” he said.

Vast swaths of cracked pavement belie the success of Carroll’s main enterprise, which started in 2001 and hosts data for a variety of regional companies and takes up 80,000 square feet in the building’s northwest corner.

Carroll said there’s no more space suitable for a data center, but that demand is strong enough that might put up a new building on the east side of the property, or expand Lifeline into another state.

“Just the fact the data center operates its 80,000 square feet makes it worthwhile to have the whole building,” he said. “Everything else is just bonus.”

Two years ago, Carroll was trying to acquire and renovate dilapidated retail outlots facing Shadeland Avenue, but he said he’s abandoned that idea. And last year he talked up the idea of converting Ford’s soon-to-be-shuttered steering systems plant, which is also on the east side near Shadeland Avenue, into an indoor farm. He said he dropped that idea because the city’s code-enforcement department has become overly aggressive, driving up the cost of redevelopment.

Carroll said he’s still pursuing “high-security” office tenants, which might include call centers or software developers that deal with sensitive information. He’s installed concrete barricades around the entire perimeter of the building and is topping the low walls with spiked metal fencing.

“We always anticipated it would be data center and secure office,” he said. “That’s still the easy track that it’s going to roll out into now.”•


  • OH MY
    Give me a break...this place looks like a dump and I don't blame the city for leaving. This guy bought it and said it was going to be a really nice office site. Now it's going to be used to generate electricity? This property is large and is close to interstate and main road; it seems a shame to have some idiot dally with it when it could be re-habbed and used. The east side needs a break. I am sick of the storage places and vacant lots.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1