Zionsville panel OKs rezoning plan for new town hall

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The Zionsville Plan Commission approved a rezoning request Monday night that paves the way for a new municipal building and commercial development on the 6.85-acre site that is occupied by the current town hall.

According to plans, a new two-story, 35,000-square-foot town hall would be be built directly to the north of the existing hall—a 53-year-old former church that has housed the municipal offices since 2003.

The site plan includes room for a future expansion of the new town hall and a 116-spot parking lot to the south of the new building. The new town hall would cost an estimated $7.5 million.

The 27,000-square-foot church would be demolished, allowing the town to offer two commercial lots along Oak Street for sale—one of 1.81 acres and the other at 1.69 acres. An access road aligned with Brenden Way would cut through the middle of the two lots to connect the new town hall parking lot to Oak Street.

“It’s not fixed in stone… but it’d be pretty difficult to put it anywhere else but the center,” Wayne DeLong, Zionsville's director of planning and economic development, said about the location of the road shown in concept drawings.

He said it’s possible one developer could be interested in both lots, and that is something the town would consider.

“Nothing has been identified as to how the property would be marketed,” DeLong said.

Under the new zoning, a variety of uses would be allowed, including professional services, hotels, public facilities, recreation centers, restaurants, retail, governmental uses and health care services.

A maximum building height of 50 feet would be in place, and no single use could exceed 60,000 square feet, according to the zoning ordinance. New structures would need to be constructed of brick, stone or precast concrete that looks like brick or stone.

Any specific project for the land would return to the plan commission for final approval.

Plan Commission member Kevin Schiferl said he had concerns about the new town hall being at the back of the property and possibly unseen from Oak Street.

“Town Hall should be prominent and public,” Schiferl said. “I think we’d be quite remiss if we lost that in Zionsville.”

In May, the town council discussed a financial arrangement to pay for constructing the new town hall building. The Zionsville Redevelopment Authority would issue bonds and lease the new town hall to the Zionsville Redevelopment Commission. Once the bonds were paid in full, the redevelopment commission would take ownership of the building, and then convey the facility to the town.

The bonds would not exceed $9.135 million, and the redevelopment commission would agree to semi-annual lease payments of $732,000.

A variety of funds would be pledged to pay for the bonds, including tax increment financing district revenue from the 38-acre TIF district that town officials created at the beginning of the year. The area stretches northwest from the municipal building to Quail Run Apartments along Ford Road. The Starbucks just west of the town hall is in it, but the adjacent Boone Village shopping center is not.

Food and beverage taxes, the town’s cumulative capital fund and a special benefits tax would also be pledged to back the bonds, but town officials don’t believe implementing a special benefits tax would be necessary.

The plan commission approved the rezoning request 4-1, with Schiferl voting against it. The Zionsville Town Council will have final approval.

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