IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Restore Winona to city tax rolls

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IBJ Editorial

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has a vision for what could become of the old Winona Memorial Hospital property at 3232 N. Meridian St. And because the museum is one of the city’s shining stars, city officials have an obligation to seriously consider whatever proposal the museum might bring to the table.

It’s hard to imagine the museum’s vision for the property prevailing, however, if there’s another option that would add the hospital grounds back to the city’s property tax rolls.

Winona and its surrounding parking lots have been vacant since the hospital’s former owner declared bankruptcy in 2004. The unpaid property taxes on the property total $2 million, and with the city poised to take control of the site, there’s little hope it will produce income for the city anytime soon.

The Children’s Museum, which is just a block south of the hospital grounds, is as eager as other neighbors to see the old Winona once again contribute to the vibrancy of the North Meridian corridor. Museum officials have in mind using federal grants to clear the site and turn it into a park and outdoor learning center. We agree it would be a great use for the property.

But another potential user, Denver-based Ecolonomic Realty Group, is studying gutting the hospital building and recasting it as senior apartments. That use doesn’t sound as appealing as what the Children’s Museum proposes—until you consider it would be a for-profit, property-tax-paying operation.

If the Denver firm decides it wants to pursue what is likely to be a $25 million project and presents a solid proposal, the city is in no position to turn down the tax revenue it would generate. Center Township, where the property sits, already is overrun with huge government buildings, not-for-profit hospitals and other public institutions that don’t pay property taxes.

That drives up taxes for other Center Township property owners who have to shoulder more of the burden of funding city government. That disparity drives people out of the township and, worse, sometimes out of the county into neighboring counties that have fewer needs and a greater percentage of privately owned land to fill their coffers.

The state-imposed property tax caps that are about to go into effect will further challenge Indianapolis to raise the money needed to fund city government.

As much as we applaud the Children’s Museum for its wonderful facilities and the great reputation it enjoys around the world, it would be hard to accept yet another piece of property in Center Township falling off the tax rolls.•

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To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

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  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

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