Council gives city say in $260M Mass Ave project

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IPS Hendricks proposal - big pic

City officials will get more say in the final plans for a mixed-use development at the former Coca-Cola plant under a proposal approved Monday night by the Indianapolis City-County Council.

The 14-8 vote means the city will have one year to negotiate a project agreement with Hendricks Commercial Properties LLC, which has proposed a $260 million development on the lot at the corner of College and Massachusetts avenues that is currently owned by Indianapolis Public Schools.

If there’s no deal in that time, however, the city would be required to buy the lot from IPS for as much as $13 million.

Hendricks Asset Manager Isaac Bamgbose said after the meeting that the firm is “very confident” it will get the deal done.

“It’s our objective to put the shovel in the ground,” he said, adding, “We definitely don’t want to leave the city with the tab.”

The controversial proposal is meant to let the city have more influence over a significant project it would otherwise be largely locked out of. That’s because Beloit, Wisconsin-based Hendricks is not seeking city tax breaks or other assistance that would allow for more traditional negotiations.

Council member Jeff Miller said he decided to vote for the proposal because “I feel that a site as important as this one should have some city oversight to ensure neighborhood input is weighed and that appropriate development occurs.”

“While there is a chance the city could have to purchase the property if the current bidder cannot achieve the required goals in a year,” he said, “the city could either sell it to another bidder or bond money and hold onto the property until a new bidder was found.”

In May, the IPS board approved a recommendation to sell the 11-acre downtown property to Hendricks, despite concerns by neighborhood residents who have argued the scale of the development is too large.

But the board did so with the caveat that the sale won’t become final until Hendricks and the city hammer out a project agreement.

“We look forward to working with the city administration on the agreement,” Bamgbose said. “It’s a collaborative effort. We’ll be working to put together a strong proposal that all parties can be proud of.”

Hendricks plans to pay $12 million to IPS for the site and has proposed building 337 apartments, 339,400 square feet of office space and 67,225 square feet of retail space. In addition, it plans to build a 132-room hotel, 68,500-square-foot daycare center and a 41,000-square-foot cinema.

Hendricks’ proposal will receive scrutiny from both the Metropolitan Development Commission and the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

Although Hendricks has not requested city assistance, it is seeking $2.4 million from the state for site remediation. It has also enlisted a local engineering firm and a general contractor to design a preservation plan for the historic building, which dates to 1931.

Hendricks’ IPS proposal beat out five other bids—two from Milhaus Inc. and one each from Browning Investments LLC, Strategic Capital Partners LLC and Hageman Group.

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