Westfield council OKs $2.5M to make way for mixed-use project

May 12, 2014
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The city of Westfield will help Westfield High School replace its aging football stadium, making way for a $40 million commercial development at U.S. 31 and State Road 32.

City Council members heard from a half-dozen ardent supporters during a public hearing Monday night, but most already had decided to approve the $2.5 million contribution. The measure passed 7-0.

Westfield-Washington Schools had asked for the financial boost to accelerate construction of a stadium behind the high school, allowing the district to sell the high-profile parcel to a local development team with a grand vision.

As IBJ reported Friday, Westfield Community Investors is working on plans for a mixed-use “life wellness” project on 14 acres northeast of the intersection, now home to the district’s athletic fields and administrative offices.

The stakes are high, given the property’s location at a key gateway to downtown.

The developer expects The Junction to include a multi-story medical office building, a hotel with meeting space, an indoor family entertainment center—think laser tag and mini golf—and some restaurant and retail space, partner Randy Zentz told the council.

A future phase could include an “independent senior living product,” he said.

Council President Jim Ake said the $2.5 million would come from proceeds of the city’s water utility sale, and the money would be repaid through property taxes the commercial development will generate. School-owned land is not taxed.

And the project could serve as a catalyst for additional development, he said.

“I don’t know of a better win-win situation than this,” he said before the public hearing.

No one spoke against the proposal, and Councilor Steve Hoover said only one of the 300 or so emails he received on the subject was negative.

Councilor Rob Stokes said he would support the contribution as long as it was understood—and made official during the rezoning process—that the city would not offer any additional incentives for the project, and that the property owners and tenants must be tax-paying, for-profit entities.

 “One of the principle reasons we’re looking at this is the tax base incentive,” he said.

Mayor Andy Cook praised the council’s willingness to work with the school district to determine what’s best for the community.

“It shows, with cooperation, what government entities can do,” he said.

The Westfield Chamber of Commerce board also supported the proposal.

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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