Proposed criminal justice complex draws five bidders

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Five groups of developers have responded to Indianapolis' call for candidates to build a new criminal justice complex.

The groups, whom city officials would not identify, have national and international experience and have worked on similar facilities, Mayor Greg Ballard's spokesman Marc Lotter said. The deadline for responding to the city's request for qualifications was Tuesday.

A review team of city and county officials, plus private-sector advisers, will narrow the field by sometime this spring, Lotter said.

Ballard and local law enforcement officials want to relocate and consolidate county jails, criminal courts and other related functions from disparate locations in the southeast quadrant of downtown. That could free up valuable real estate for development, as well as office space in the cramped City-County Building.

A recent market survey identified land near Indianapolis International Airport as the leading site, but the location is drawing criticism from judges, lawyers and residents.

The complex would require as much as 35 acres of land and add 1,000 jail beds and 30 new courtrooms. Lotter said the location will be chosen in time to present it to the finalist bidders, who will then be asked to draw up specific plans.

Ballard's office is meeting with lawyers, judges and other stakeholders to discuss their concerns and potential sites for the complex.

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis said she has been inundated with calls from people concerned about not having a centralized, downtown location for courts and related services, as well as from west-side residents who don't want jails in their area. She's trying to organize town hall meetings on the topic for March.

The developers who responded to the city's request also were asked to discuss scenarios for financing the project. The complex is expected to cost $200 million to $400 million—or more. Lotter said city officials aren't talking about the cost because they hope competition from the private sector will drive it down.

On that point, Lotter mentioned advantages of the airport site.

“We already own the property. It’s already off the tax rolls. Utilities are already out there in abundance," he said. "All of that can come into play to help drive down the cost."


  • Joe..
    I'm glad it's near the Zoo. The one part of the argument I don't quite get.
  • ...in a galaxy far, far away...
    It's about 3.5-4 miles from I-465 & Washington to the County Line.
  • What benefits?
    Strange that there are those who claim this is a benefit to the downtown yet, can't tell what those said benefits would be.
  • Good
    This proposal will benefit downtown, center township and IPS greatly in the long term.
  • Juries
    Has no one thought of the fact that there will have to be two jury pools (one civil and one criminal), and that jury service in the criminal courts will impose another huge burden? If the criminal court site is near the CCB the present system can work if the clerk's office transports criminal jurors the few blocks to the GM (or other near-downtown) site.
  • Bait and Switch
    I want to confirm an earlier poster's comment about the actual location of the new justice center. It is on a parcel that is even farther out than the old terminal. When this proposal was first aired it implied a reuse for the old airport property, the terminal itself. In some aspects such a proposal had its attractions in that it was an unused building that BTW, would cost a small fortune to demolish. Instead, they propose to build an entirely new infrastructure out by the county line. Not only does this leech economic vitality and tax dollars from the city center, it creates an undue burden on citizens to access their government. Talk of a special transit line is cynical at best in that the only logical route for such a line is from downtown to this new justice center. So, people will still need to gather in the place they needed to be in the first place in order to go to another place. Of course, the city can glean revenue from those who are forced to take this "special" transit line. Of course, for those that insist on driving to this new center the taxpayers will have the honor of paying for the new road infrastructure that will be needed to handle the traffic that will come with such an out-of-the-way and isolated property. Basically, the taxpayers of Indianapolis will be once again investing in the economic development of the suburbs.
  • Nope
    You sure are presumptuous. I guess Paul Ogden speaks for everyone. His opinion is fact.
  • Deal is Done
    It is the nature of a criminal law practice that you have many 5-10 minute hearings before any trial. The attorney and the defendant have to be at those hearings. For an attorney who also has a civil practice this is an enormous burden. It's at best a 20 minute drive to that location. Possibly 25 depending on the traffic. And that doesn't count the time walking to your car. The person might have a 5 minute hearing and have to turn around and head back. That's an hours down time. Make no mistake about this. This project is about giving a lucrative contract to Corrections Corporation of America (which does a thoroughly horrible job running Jail #2) CCA wants the airport location so it can bid on federal prisoners. (There is absolutely no reason to have the city lease from a third party except to send tax dollars to that third party.) CCA spreads a tone of money around and spends a fortune with Barnes & Thornburg on litigation. This is CCA's payoff. The decision is already made. It's the airport location and CCA. The fact that judges, attorneys and the public don't want that location is irrelevant to the politicians who have had their pockets lined by CCA.
  • Rail Service - Downtown to New Jail
    Perhaps new high speed rail service to the new criminal justice complex from downtown. Attorneys can stay in the downtown location and jump on the high speed rail to meet clients, courts, etc. The rail service would also serve the Convention Center, Lucas Oil, Bankers Life, all the museums. It could work...
  • Closer
    Airport closer and more accessible to downtown than Castleton (FBI) and many other "corners" of Marion County. Look at a map.
  • How About this Location?
    I'm not sure if this was even a consideration, but what about Keystone Enterprise Park combined with the old University Loft building across the street for it, albeit its across the street from the juvenile center as well. This could potentially be a huge win-win for the Martindale Brightwood area.
  • Stamping Plant
    As a criminal lawyer, I fear the airport. It is not easily accessible to defendants. People traveling by bus have to go into downtown from their origin, catch a transfer, and THEN go out to the airport. Which, in it's proposed location, will take a long time in transit. Also, there are thousands of lawyers downtown. Then there are ancillary businesses like court reporters and bail bondsmen. ALL will have to relocate. Bondsmen get business based on their proximity to the courts. Criminal attorneys operate in high-volume case loads where proximity to the court is paramount. All of these people will have to relocate to a place near the court. Except, there is NO existing infrastructure to support the relocation of these businesses into the airport area. Not to mention the FAA regulations on airport property (which is noted as a concern by the Mayor). Imagine all of these businesses (and SO many more) just up and leaving over night? There will be a huge economic impact on the downtown area. Then there's the GM stamping plant. It's vacant, has plenty of room, and is easily accessible by car, bus, and foot from downtown. It's immediately across the street from the zoo. Most lawyers will be able to tolerate this and not need to relocate. There are already vacant buildings nearby to support any businesses that want to relocate close to the court complex. It will help reinvigorate an area that, as it sits now, can use the economic stimulus. It's the #2 choice according to the Mayor's report and is garnering overwhelming support when compared to the airport location (which is, BTW, the MOST northwest that you can get on the property.) The airport location is literally walking distance from Hendricks county. Guess where much of the money from the economic boon that the complex will furnish will end up? Out of county. Stamping plant all the way.
    • SIte Not the Old Airport
      Many supporting moving the Jail & Criminal Courts to the "airport" assume its at the old terminal which WAS 15 minutes from downtown via I-70 & Airport Xpway. That is NOT the location they're proposing. The site is next to the old United Aircraft maintenance facility. It literally is right off Washington St. About 5/6 blocks from Raceway Road (the Marion/Hendricks County border). The site is NOT easily accessible by interstate. Washington St is only main route there. Nearest I-70 exit is 3/6 miles away. NO major city has ever placed their major criminal court facility on the outskirts of their city. None! I challenge posters to find evidence to the contrary.
    • Make the workers pay!
      There is no free market. These developments will be subsidized like many of the others. So, by eliminating the common wage or prevailing wage you are driving down quality of life throughout the community. Workers shouldn't have to bear the brunt of these developments by earning less so that non-union contractors can fill their coffers.
    • Free Market
      Take away the common wage, prevailing wage, and mandatory union rules and we should have a huge savings. There are many very capable non-union contractors who can provide great service without the hassles of the criminal union element. Besides, the jails are where many of these thugs belong.
      • Good Idea
        I'm a lawyer and I think its a good idea to get the criminal justice system out of the downtown. The biggest complaints seem to be about the drive from downtown. However, people with offices outside of the downtown area (e.g. the North side, Broad Ripple) do not seem to have any problem with driving downtown to the City County Building, which takes just as long.
      • To Esquire
        A quick look at Google Maps will show that you are indisputably incorrect. Downtown Indianapolis is not tight on space. We have a greater percentage of our downtown devoted to surface parking than most cities in America. Base your arguments off of personal preference or other reasons, but space concerns are simply not valid.
      • Good for Econ development and for public safety
        The airport location is perfect because it is utilizing space that has not been used in past and will attract more office space and retail around it. Also, you have NO MORE rif raf hanging out after they leave jail, just to back in, hurting the safety of downtown. Good job Mayor and Council.
      • Why Not all courts
        The juvenile court needs moved and why not consolidate all courts into one location. The complaints I hear are from lawyers who have offices near the city county building but that is not the majority of attorneys. Downtown Indianapolis is not a good location due to many things such as parking, traffic, and conflict with other things like conventions. The drive from downtown to the old airport location takes about 15 minutes.
      • Lawyer loves it
        I'm a lawyer AND a downtown resident, and I love the idea of moving the criminal justice complex outside of downtown. I can handle a short drive (15 minutes, not the 45 exaggerated by some commenters) as a trade-off to truly maximize the limited downtown space in the future. Space is (or soon will be) scarce in downtown, and this is something that simply doesn't need to be there. Plus we can get some modern new facilities!

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        1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

        2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

        3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

        4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

        5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?