Westfield schools ask city for $2.5M to speed development

April 29, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Westfield-Washington Schools is asking the city to help pay for a new football stadium to accelerate construction and make way for what’s being described as a $40 million-plus commercial development at U.S. 31 and State Road 32.

The school district has agreed to sell 14 acres northeast of the intersection to a group of local investors with big visions for the site, Superintendent Mark Keen told the Westfield City Council on Monday.

A development plan expected to be submitted this week calls for a three- to four-story office building and hotel on 9.6 acres west of Shamrock Boulevard, now home to Westfield-Washington’s football/track stadium and junior varsity baseball field.

The deal also includes 4.5 acres east of Shamrock, where the district’s administration building currently stands, though that parcel won’t be developed immediately.

The initial projects could add $40 million in assessed value to the city’s tax rolls, Keen said, and the developer is eager to get started.

But proceeds of the land sale—about $4 million for the western parcel—aren’t enough to build a replacement football stadium, even with the pledges Westfield-Washington has received through its $7.5 million “Build the Rock” campaign.

So Keen asked City Council to contribute $2.5 million to “expedite our move.”

He took pains to describe the requested cash as an investment, rather than a gift. The distinction: The anticipated development should generate enough property taxes to repay the city in less than three years, Keen said. School-owned land is not taxed.

The new 5,000-seat stadium also would be a community asset, the superintendent said, potentially hosting more than 300 events a year thanks to the installation of artificial turf. (Grass fields need periodic “rest” periods.)

Keen said the venue has been planned since Westfield High School was erected in 1995, but development was sidelined during the residential boom as the district focused on building schools. The district has nearly doubled in size since then.

And commercial development east of the U.S. 31 interchange could spur additional investment along State Road 32 leading into downtown Westfield, he said, supporting the city’s ongoing Grand Junction revitalization initiative.

“It’s important to get going quickly,” he said.

Westfield-Washington accepted bids for the property last year, but declined to accept the lone offer it received. Mayor Andy Cook said he hasn’t seen the development plans, but he said councilors have been meeting with school board members for several months to discuss how the public entities can work together on economic development.

“If we can accelerate the private-sector use and move the property to a taxpaying entity, great,” he said. “We want to provide additional momentum to the commercial tax base in that area.”

Councilor Rob Stokes asked for more information about the proposed projects, which officials said will be made public after plans are filed. A representative of the development team declined to comment before then.

The council will hear public comment on the proposal at its next meeting May 12, President Jim Ake said, urging residents to share their opinions during the hearing or via email.

“We want to know if there is wide community support,” he said before sending off the standing-room-only crowd of green-clad Westfield schools supporters with a smile and hearty “Go ‘Rocks!”

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
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
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Choice between a democrat and a question mark? Take the question mark. We have all seen what the democrats will do.

  2. Its easy to blame workers. What about the Management of the Mill. Its not smart in business to not have a back up plan. Workers are afforded sick days in most cases. Union or not. Whether drunk partying, or a real sickness. Why would you as a businessman/woman not have a rotation of workers incase this happens. This is not an exclusive union protection. If the company can prove bad intentions on the part of any union employee. They can take action. Most CBA's have a 3 strike policy. Just like most Non-union company policies. You should read a CBA sometime. There are protections for companies too. Unions understand that businesses need to make money. If they don't, the union's member won't have a place to work.

  3. My kids play hockey on the North side and we have been very happy with the youth program. More Ice would create more opportunity for kids to pay this great sport. With 3 rinks that would also create more figure skating opportunities. What better gift to give your kids than a sport they will love!

  4. Naah, only Indy place fans were robbed of seeing Zanardi race. CART fans saw his amazing talents just about every weekend. And F1 fans saw him too. Zanardi didn't care he wasn't at Indy, neither do 99.18% of other race fans world wide. And CART fans are quite pleased of the domination of their drivers and owners have had at Indy, in the IRL, and in the current Indycar series....almost 99.18% of the time since 2000 Indy 500. I respect Zanardi, but his life goes on without Indy. Sucks to be you Capt.

  5. So let me get this right: gun permits online are fraud proof, but voting is as easy as 1-2-3.--But at least we agree that someone without a photo ID cannot be trusted with a gun.

ADVERTISEMENT