Zionsville land swap could give schools, town a financial boost

February 20, 2014
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Less than a year after Zionsville Community Schools and the town of Zionsville joined forces to buy property for commercial development, they’re finalizing a land-swap that could result in more money for both entities.

The school district in May used $3.4 million from an old bond issue to buy 91 acres of prime Dow Chemical Co. property along 106th Street east of Zionsville Road. It planned to use about 10 acres for a new warehouse and maintenance facility, and sold the rest to the town for $3 million—payable over 25 years—plus the promise of a 50-50 split on any additional tax revenue resulting from the development.

Full build out of Creekside Corporate Park is expected to take about five years.

As planning efforts began in earnest, though—and Indianapolis-based Hat World Inc. snapped up about a fifth of the property for a new corporate headquarters—officials began questioning whether a tax-exempt use made sense there.

This month, officials came up with an alternative.

A tentative agreement calls for ZCS to give the town its Creekside land , along with about 10 acres on the northern portion of district-owned property on County Road 875 for a future public park.

The town, in turn, would hand over Jennings Field northwest of downtown (which will continue to host sporting events under school ownership), and agreed to make intersection improvements that would allow the school district to build its maintenance facility on the southern portion of the CR 875 land.

Adding 10 acres of developable land in Creekside should boost the expected increase in property-tax revenue, already expected to be about $1 million per year once construction is complete.

Every little bit helps the cash-strapped school district, which has struggled in recent years due to state property-tax caps and a new school-funding formula. Although it could not use the 2005 bond proceeds for anything other than land acquisition and construction projects, payments from the town are likely to be directed into the schools’ largely unrestricted General Fund.

Zionsville, meanwhile, is looking to draw commercial investment to diversify its largely residential tax base—another consequence of tax caps.

What’s your take on the creative collaboration, now that the development is taking shape?

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  • Good move
    I'm not familiar with this project in particular, but I think its a good thing that school districts are having to get move creative in order to keep funding themselves. For too long districts built without any sense of consequence, leading to the school funding problems we have today. Hopefully this teaches districts to act a little more reasonably with their money.
  • Error
    You may want to check, but I believe you are talking about 875 EAST and not 875 N.
    • Just 875
      Thanks for the note, Dave. Turns out it's just 875. Fix has been made.
    • South CR 875E
      The subject ZCS property is located at 4400 East CR 875E.
      • Correction...
        Sorry... 4400 South CR 875E.
      • Any Tax Benefits?
        1. Don't blame schools being cash strapped on new property tax formulas. Look also at the proliferation of TIF Districts that are moving funds from schools, parks and libraries and putting them in slush funds that local pols can use to reward their friends and benefactors. 2) Isn't this area in a TIF district meaning that tax benefits to the schools will be minimal?

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      1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

      2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

      3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

      4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

      5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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