Council backs city financing plan for $81M tower

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A proposal by Flaherty & Collins Properties to build an $81 million, 28-story apartment tower on part of the former Market Square Arena site passed its last big hurdle Monday evening.

The Indianapolis City-County Council voted 18-9 to provide up to $23 million in city financing for the project, with the stipulation that 30 percent of the workers hired to build the tower live in Marion County.

The measure passed by the council is nearly identical to what the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee recommended earlier this month. The one exception: Councilor Vop Osili, who represents the district in which the development would be built, proposed an amendment reducing the term of the bond from 25 years to 15 years, a move that could save taxpayers $7.6 million, he said.

The amendment passed.

Prior to the vote, a handful of councilors expressed their opposition to the city’s support of the project.

“Our city has many needs: basic infrastructure, basic employment, Democrat Brian Mahern said. “The downtown has received the overwhelming lion’s share of attention from not only this administration but probably the past two or three.”

Much of the bond, $17.5 million, will go directly to construction costs while the remainder will be held as a safety net to fund unexpected expenses.

Besides questioning the financing, councilors also expressed concern over whether Flaherty & Collins can meet the local hiring goal. CEO David Flaherty said he is confident it can.

“It’s never been done before,” he said of the commitment. “We’re setting new precedent here. I think we’re really breaking new ground in a positive way.”

Of the 30 percent, half is expected to be minority hires. Flaherty said his company plans to hire a consultant to ensure it hits the marks.

The proposed Market Square Tower—if it’s built as planned at 28 stories and 370 feet—will be one of the 10 tallest buildings in Indianapolis. It would rank as the tallest apartment building in Indianapolis.

The tower would include 300 luxury apartments renting for $1,300 to $2,400 per month. About 500 parking spaces and 43,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space would be included. Flaherty & Collins said it prefers that a specialty grocer occupy the space and is pursuing Whole Foods as a tenant.

The development would be backed by a combination of public and private funds, with the city agreeing to contribute funding from the bond sale and land for the project appraised at $5.6 million.

“After sitting vacant for a decade, the former Market Square Arena site will soon transform our skyline with a gleaming new retail and residential tower," Mayor Greg Ballard said in a prepared statement released Monday night. "Exciting projects such as this make Indy a more attractive to place to live. I look forward to signing the proposal passed by the council and getting construction started on this project this summer.”


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