Fishers Switch construction could start this month

August 7, 2014
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Work is expected to begin this month on a $28 million mixed-use project on the site of the Fishers Train Station, which will be demolished to make way for offices, retail and apartments in the burgeoning suburban downtown.

Loftus Robinson Development has grand plans for what’s being called Fishers Switch: a three-story retail/office building, a 50-foot-wide pedestrian plaza (with access to the train platform, which will remain in place), and a four-story apartment building wrapped around a 442-space parking garage.

Fishers Town Council OK’d the project in February despite some objections, agreeing to contribute the 3.5-acre train station property, located along 116th Street just west of the Nickel Plate railroad tracks, and up to $9.5 million for the parking garage and streetscape.

This week, council members approved an amendment to the deal that calls for $675,000 of that total to be used to acquire (and build) 6,444 square feet of public space on the ground floor of the apartment building, facing the outdoor plaza.

Transit plaza at Fishers SwitchA pedestrian plaza is planned as part of a mixed-used project on the site of the Fishers Train Station. Click to enlarge. (Rendering courtesy of town of Fishers)

Community and Economic Development Director Tom Dickey said it’s not clear yet exactly how all the space will be used, but public restrooms accessible from outside are a must.

Other possibilities include a ticket window for the Indiana Transportation Museum, which boards passengers for its annual FairTrain and other excursions in Fishers; a Hamilton County Tourism outpost; a winter farmers market; and a “community room” that could be rented for meetings or special events.

The office building and parking garage are expected to be built first, with work beginning as soon as possible after the property changes hands (possibly this week). Construction of the apartment building must begin within 90 days.

Built in 1996, the existing train station building housed the Fishers Chamber of Commerce and Fishers Town Court. The chamber  relocated to Forum Credit Union’s conference center on USA Parkway, and the court is sharing space with the town’s technology staff in a former Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch just north of on Municipal Drive.

Tickets for this year’s FairTrain are being sold from a tent at the north end of the BMV building.

Work on The Depot, a mixed-use project just west of The Switch, is ongoing, with the first tenants expected to move in this fall. The so-called Central Green—tree-lined open space between the two projects—is scheduled to be complete in October.

  • Clarification
    The way this article reads it sounds as if a second parking garage is being constructed. Does anyone know if that is true? The Depot, under construction now, has a parking garage. Will Fishers Switch include a second garage?
    • Garage
      Yes, there is going to be a 2nd garage, which is part of the multi-family complex.
    • Confirmation
      Yes, this new development "The Switch" will contain another parking garage. This is in addition to "The Depot" and its parking garage which are currently under construction. There will also be a third parking structure built in the "Nickel Plate District" as part of an office building that is going to be at the northeast corner of Lantern and 116th (part of that project will include demolishing the old KFC building).
    • Thanks, all!
      Yes, the parking garage at the Switch is in addition to the garage under construction at The Depot and the one planned for Lantern/116th. Parking has been a big problem downtown.
    • Parking and public debt
      Yes, there are taxpayer-subsidized parking garages being built downtown, some over existing surface parking. The new garages will primarily be used by the tenants of the apartments, retail spaces, and offices being built, with little left for the general public. And the Town Council just increased the "train station" borrowing to $15.5 million (up from the quoted $9.5 million) and the "Yeager/KFC" borrowing was increased to $8.8 million, up from $6 million originally proposed. The new taxes being generated by these projects are LESS than the annual debt service payments on the bonds, meaning that money has to come from somewhere else. And then there is the subject of some of the beneficiaries of these giveaways being campaign backers and donors of certain officeholders. Corporate welfare anyone?
    • parking, parking, parking
      Wait, so there is going to be 3 parking garages in this relatively small area? Are you kidding me?! Great waste of time, space, money, etc. How much are the garages going to cost to park in if you are just a visitor going to a business in the area?
    • Parking is needed
      Ben -- There is a huge need for more parking in downtown and it will only get worse when the new structures are completed. I don't see how it's a waste of space (or time?). Greg brings up some worthy considerations about the financial soundness of the plan.
    • Greg...
      Greg -- Can you elaborate on your math regarding tax income being less than debt payments? What assumptions are you making? Are you only adding up expected property taxes? Are you adding in expected sales tax increases? Is it true (or fair) to expect that building a destination will attract more visitors, thus outside money coming into Fishers and won't that help offset what the town is giving away up front?
      • More on costs
        Dad, I took the figures directly from the staff presentation at the 2/17/14 council meeting where I spoke in opposition. I am only using the staff's own figures, which I think may be overly optimistic. The video of the council meeting is available on the town website in the media center.
        • Will look for it
          Greg -- I will look for that video, but in the meantime did their presentation include all potential/expected revenue include increase sales at businesses, restaurants, etc? Was there revenue from parking fees (just curious)? I'm not disagreeing with you , or their numbers, but I'm just curious if what they presented was inclusive of everything that should be expected because I doubt at this point anyone can really predict how much in total sales, thus tax, will be generated. To my knowledge only a couple businesses have been announced at this point so how can a proper tax revenue be calculated at this point?
          • more on parking
            You may not be aware that this is Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIF financing dedicates all new or increased real estate taxes from the development to repayment of the bonds, which was in the negative about $480,000 per year. To make up this difference, they originally planned to divert other TIF funds to pay the debt, but now plan to divert a portion of Fishers' total county option income tax receipts to pay the TIF debt. And there has never been any mention of any garage receipts. No one seems willing to say if these garages are pay, or free. But an even better question is why are the taxpayers subsidizing all of these private downtown developments, total public cost $30 million or more, AT ALL?
          • TIF
            I knew it is a TIF district. Unless I don't understand something I don't think that changes my original thought that if all this development results in, let's say, $5 million in additional revenue to businesses, the money generated from that will benefit Fishers. I realize there is some point where tax expenditures don't make sense any more based on the resulting income (see Carmel), but I'm not sure Fishers has crossed that line here. Or maybe they have. As for why should tax dollars be spent on development...why should tax dollars be spent on anything for that matter? Why build roads? Why build parks? Why build schools? Why put up lighting along streets? Why should the town pay the Fishers Freedom Festival committee nearly $100,000 a year? Why should they have built the amphitheater and why should Parks & Rec run so many programs (mud day, splash day, the upcoming glow in the dark day)? I don't know when it's a good idea to stop spending local taxes on things that make the town (city) a better place to live. Maybe helping push forward a downtown development is that moment. Maybe it's not?
          • If it were a good deal...
            As with any of these government developments, if they were such a good idea, then the ROAE would move the developer to do the project. Obviously the math didn't work for them. If what Greg is saying is true, then it doesn't even make sense in government accounting. This is not about bringing jobs because this development is just going to bring in low paying service jobs (i.e., the Obama recovery story) not high paying white collar jobs that fit our demographics in Fishers. Having moved from California to Fishers it is truly sad to see it being turned into a strip mall haven.
          • Some facts
            Ray and Greg, First of all none of these developments are "strip malls". All of them are multi-story buildings with diverse tenants. Secondly they are not all filled with low paying service jobs. The building being built at the old KFC site already has Community Hospital professional offices leased on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The parking garage attached is not a corporate giveaway because Fishers will own the garage, which makes it a public and Town asset, not a giveaway. The Switch building will have office space on the 2 nd floor and is already slated for entrepreneurial business ready to move out of Launch Fishers business incubator. This too is the farthest thing from service jobs, but is the kind of community business investment that leads to new job creating companies of the future. Also, there will be restaurant, retail, and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments aimed at young professionals, not families. Finally, the parking garages will be FOR PUBLIC use.....this has been stated many times at public meetings. If you want to patronize one of the retail establishments or have business meeting you will have a place to park. There will also be enough parking for some future developments.......that's called planning ahead, and building the necessary infrastructure for successful future development, otherwise you would attract people to new downtown attractions with nowhere to park. I think it is important to note that TIF districts no longer send ALL money to debt obligation, but rather pay the appropriate share to schools first, so these developments help the school district. Also besides the property tax collected by the TIF district, the town will benefit from COIT money from the jobs created. Certainly these developments have some trade offs (increased traffic, loss of green space), but on the whole these will be positive assets and impacts on the community.
          • Let Carmel make the mistakes
            I still support most of this development but I am stating to worry. Carmel has made HUGE mistakes handing cash to developers for questionable projects that have burdened that city with almost 1 billion in debt. Fishers getting a mayor is risks putting us on the same path. Once the developers are in the pocket of a few the checks start flying.....and the mayor a few on council can turn their personal musing into expensive disasters (reference the PAC in Carmel)....and then come the legal maneuverings. If we play our cards right we can have some very smart development but I am starting to worry this is going to turn into amateur hour.
            • You are on to something
              So as I read comments here I am thinking most of you are onto something. TIF does not always pan out as expected and Fishers should be vigilant with it's money. A quick search turned up this interesting article where you can see what Steve mentioned. Carmel is in the hole for over 35 Million AFTER tif. How irresponsible, debt for half leased space and fake store fronts
            • Better than original plan
              This is much better than the original plan from several years ago where Fishers just wanted to bulldoze everything between the railroad tracks and 69 and rebuild it to look like Carmel. I'm fully onboard with these projects. Unlike Greg said, I don't see that much original surface parking being taken up by parking garage. I also don't really see that as being a bad thing as all these garages will be hidden inside the buildings and there will actually be some density. There was a smallish parking lot by the train station. And the current parking lot by the Fishers Office Suites and the abandoned KFC will be gone. I don't see any problem there. I love the extension of Fishers Corner Blvd from Lantern to the Municipal Circle. I really hope they do something similar on the south side of 116th. I'm definitely looking forward to the realigning of Lantern, Commercial, and Technology Drive and actual crossing gates instead of stopsigns at the Lantern RR crossing. Maybe I'm alone, but I'm excited by all these changes in downtown Fishers. I just wish something could be done with those huge, ugly strip malls on the south side of 116th
              • Brandon
                Give it time. Those malls can easily be demolished and replaced with multi-level, higher-density structures ;-)

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              1. So as I read this the one question that continues to come to me to ask is. Didn't Indiana only have a couple of exchanges for people to opt into which were very high because we really didn't want to expect the plan. So was this study done during that time and if so then I can understand these numbers. I also understand that we have now opened up for more options for hoosiers to choose from. Please correct if I'm wrong and if I'm not why was this not part of the story so that true overview could be taken away and not just parts of it to continue this negative tone against the ACA. I look forward to the clarity.

              2. It's really very simple. All forms of transportation are subsidized. All of them. Your tax money already goes toward every single form of transportation in the state. It is not a bad thing to put tax money toward mass transit. The state spends over 1,000,000,000 (yes billion) on roadway expansions and maintenance every single year. If you want to cry foul over anything cry foul over the overbuilding of highways which only serve people who can afford their own automobile.

              3. So instead of subsidizing a project with a market-driven scope, you suggest we subsidize a project that is way out of line with anything that can be economically sustainable just so we can have a better-looking skyline?

              4. Downtowner, if Cummins isn't getting expedited permitting and tax breaks to "do what they do", then I'd be happy with letting the market decide. But that isn't the case, is it?

              5. Patty, this commuter line provides a way for workers (willing to work lower wages) to get from Marion county to Hamilton county. These people are running your restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and retail stores. I don't see a lot of residents of Carmel working these jobs.