City-County Council gives go-ahead to 16 Tech bonds

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The City-County Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve $75 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements to get the 16 Tech development off the ground.

The proposed development is planned for a 60-acre tract of land just north of the Indiana University School of Medicine campus and is expected to include a mix of research labs, corporate offices, business incubators, co-working spaces, apartments, retail businesses and parks. It could take 20 years to fully develop.

The bonds, to be paid for by tax-increment financing, will give nearly $59 million in proceeds to the 16 Tech Community Corp. Inc., an entity formed by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Indiana University, Indiana University Health, the Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute and the city of Indianapolis.

They want to build a bridge across Fall Creek to connect the 16 Tech district to the rest of downtown. They also will use $3 million to create a community investment fund to benefit the neighborhoods surrounding the 16 Tech area.

The proposal passed the council by a vote of 23-0.

Project proponents expect 16 Tech to attract $100 million in private development by 2018 and $450 million in the district’s first decade. If fully developed, 16 Tech would feature 2.8 million square feet of office space for high-tech businesses, academic, health care and creative design uses; 1.7 million square feet of residential space; and 600,000 square feet for retailers, hotels and other amenities.

Once completed, the district could employ 9,100 people, backers say, with more than half of those jobs middle- and low-income positions that, proponents say, could be filled by residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the development.

“16 Tech represents an opportunity for the city of Indianapolis to accelerate its economic growth in ways it has not had before by creating a place where talent and innovation and collaboration can all come together. It is enabled by a real estate development, but in the end, it only works if it helps attract talent to Indianapolis,” said Betsy McCaw, chief operating officer of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

City leaders think that if they make the development a mix of all of the best the city has to offer—leading companies, urban apartments, retail, nightlife and parks—they can catch the eyes of more creative and highly sought-after workers.

If those talented workers congregate in one area—both at work and after hours—swapping ideas and insights, there’s a better chance they’ll design new technologies, start new companies and make research discoveries that are successful, generating large profits and high salaries that can enrich the entire city.

On Monday, Global Water Technologies announced it would move its office from the IU Innovation Center near the head of the Central Canal in downtown Indianapolis to an office building in 16 Tech. The firm, which typically employs three to five workers part-time as it handles various projects, is working to commercialize technologies that make water use more efficient.

“We've been working with some faculty from IUPUI to show the benefits of innovation in the emerging water tech sector, so the proximity to the campus was attractive,” said company CEO Erik Hromadka. “The area also has a lot of significant water infrastructure and borders on two of the main waterways in Indianapolis, so that is a logical place for us as a water technology company. It's also nice to be close to the downtown area and all that offers.”

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