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State opens downtown parking lots to development

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Indiana could open its downtown Indianapolis real estate to redevelopment while privatizing the management of its parking lots and garages.

In a request for information posted this week, the Indiana Finance Authority seeks “creative solutions” for the state’s parking needs, which include the construction of 625 more spaces.

Proposals due Nov. 15 could cover one or all of three state-owned facilities, which contain 6,096 spaces and generate more than $1 million a year from special events. The facilities are two garages—one on West Washington Street and one on North Senate Avenue—and a surface lot north of the Statehouse.

The real attraction, though, might be the chance to develop retail, office or other uses on 0.6 acres adjacent to the Washington Street Garage, as well as on the the 3.2-acre surface parking lot.

“I think it’s good they’re going down that road,” Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber said of the RFI. “With the completion of the JW Marriott, the site is much more strategic than it would have been five years ago.”

By itself, the opportunity to manage the garages might not lure many responses because the main occupants are state employees who park for free, said Fred Laughlin, vice president of management services at Indianapolis Downtown Inc. "It’s awful hard to run a parking operation just on special events, but it can be done,” he said.

It would be even more difficult to finance construction of additional parking spaces when revenue is limited to special events, Laughlin said.

That hurdle could be offset by the real-estate development opportunity. The surface lot north of the Statehouse may turn out to be more attractive than the West Washington Street site, Laughlin said.

The state is looking to expand the Washington Street garage, which has 2,842 spaces, and wants to see retail, offices or other “creative solutions” on the first floor of a six-story structure.

A developer could also build above the sixth floor. “There are no preconceived notions as to what additional structures or uses may be added to the basic garage expansion, and respondents are free to be creative,” the RFI states.

Anyone who operates the Washington Street garage would also have to abide by two agreements that cover three connectors to the JW Marriott, Indiana Convention Center and Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

There is also a memorandum of understanding in place until July 31, 2017, providing for use of the garage during Indianapolis Colts home games. This year, the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority is using 500 spaces on game days, but the number can be as high as 1,750.

The state hopes to redevelop the surface lot while not losing any of its 537 parking spaces. Again, the RFI encourages respondents to be creative and says there are no preconceived notions about what uses are ideal. Building designs and landscaping at both sites should be compatible with the Statehouse and Indiana Government Center, according to the RFI.

The Indiana Finance Authority isn't limiting its privatization effort to facilities serving government buildings. The RFI asks respondents to discuss how their proposals would change if they were also allowed to manage the White River State Park garage and a surface lot across Washington Street from Victory Field.

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  • Variety!
    NickM, IndyXtopher was specifically refering to the small parking lot on the same block as the Statehouse. I agree that that parking area (used for legislators, governor, etc.) should be returned to greenspace and a statuary. Move the parking garage underground there, if necessary. The full block of parking north of the statehouse should be wholly developed into something which is not parking. I would love to see a judiciary and legislative center built on a portion of that lot, preferably quite a few stories tall. I really hope it isn't developed into one large five to six story building. Variety!
  • Good news
    Good news as it relates to redevelopment opportunities on the garago sites, but I would like to see the surface lot north of the Statehouse converted back to its original use as open public/green space.
  • Lots...of
    Hopefully this will eventually allow the state to be less reliant on the surface parking lot at 222 N Alabama; the Alabama lot is directly north of the Old City Hall. It is almost certain that any viable redevelopment of the old city hall will require utilizing the adjacent parcel in some way.
  • No Greenspace
    I live in a City. If I want green space, I will go to Eagle Creek or step over to White River State Park. All of the surface lots should be developed as infill to the downtown core, though NOT like the atrocity that is taking place a few blocks away for AUL. Let's fill in the holes... No more surface lots in the country's 13th largest city!
    • Surface Lot Elimination
      I hope and pray that the "VIP" immediately North of and adjacent to the Statehouse is slated for elimination as part of this RFP. That lot in particular should be converted back to public green space much like the South lawn

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    1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

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