City taking redevelopment bids for key Mass Ave properties

Indianapolis hopes to take a major step toward redeveloping a key site in the Mass Ave Cultural District by issuing a request for proposals for the property, city officials announced Tuesday morning.

The adjoining city-owned properties targeted for redevelopment are at 555 N. New Jersey St., the site of Indianapolis Fire Department administrative offices and Station No. 7, and at 501 N. New Jersey St., the location of Firefighters Credit Union.

The city is hoping to land a mixed-use development for the site. The three existing facilities would be relocated to nearby properties, Mayor Greg Ballard said.

“We are seeking a project that will not only strategically link the north and south ends of Mass Ave but will enhance the unique culture of this vibrant and growing district,” he said in a prepared statement.

A key factor in redeveloping the property will be the cost of relocating the IFD facilities. No minimum price has been set for the sites, but only proposals that are “cost-neutral” to public safety will be considered, the city said.

The city intends to move the IFD administrative offices to the historic IPS School No. 97 on the near-east side in partnership with the John H. Boner Community Center and the East 10th Street Civic Association. Indiana Landmarks once listed the school building as one of the most endangered landmarks in the state.

Alternate sites for the fire station still are under consideration. The site is expected to be within a half-mile of the current location, the city said.

The city in July began exploring the feasibility of redeveloping the Mass Ave property as part of a real estate overhaul led by Public Safety Director Frank Straub. The aim is to better connect police and fire services with the neighborhoods they serve, consolidate office space to save on lease expenses, and help spark revitalization in parts of the city that have been starved of investment.

An upshot for the city is that the prime New Jersey Street property could be sold to private developers, raising money for the city and potentially adding to the tax base.

The city hired the local office of real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis to assess the sites and possible redevelopment options. Sealed bids must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 21.

Bidding information is available here.

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