Backers gain support for $3M downtown fund

Downtown Indy has gathered enough support to move forward with creating an economic improvement district in the Mile Square, reaching its goal just before a self-imposed deadline.

The not-for-profit promotions group was prepared early Thursday afternoon to present the necessary petitions to the city, before the cut-off to get on the City-County Council’s Monday agenda.

Downtown Indy has been working since September to establish an EID that would raise about $3 million annually for a decade through a fee that would be added to the tax bills of about 1,200 downtown property owners.

For the organization’s petition to proceed to the council, it needed signatures of more than half of the property owners in the Mile Square and enough owners to represent a majority of the area’s total assessed value.

Downtown Indy and supporters of the EID say the fee is necessary to bring enhanced services—such as improved cleanup, a stronger police presence and public restrooms—to the heart of downtown.

“I certainly am thankful for all of the hard work by downtown commercial and residential property owners,” said Sherry Seiwert, Downtown Indy’s executive director. “We think it will benefit downtown and strengthen downtown as we go forward.”

Under the plan, residential property owners would pay an annual flat fee of $100. For commercial property owners, it would be one-eighth of 1 percent of assessed value. The district would include about 700 residential and 500 commercial properties.

Downtown Indy officials were scrambling up until the last minute to gather support. Large downtown commercial property owners such as Cummins Inc., Anthem Inc. and White Lodging helped to push Downtown Indy over the threshold.  

The group needed the signatures to beat a new state law, effective July 1, that increases the levels of property-owner support needed for passage. The new law increases both thresholds to 60 percent.

If city-county councilors approve the measure, Downtown Indy officials hope Mayor Joe Hogsett will sign off on the EID by July 1.

“This continues a process that we heard from property owners, that this is what they wanted, to continue the beatification, cleanliness and vibrancy of downtown,” said Bob Schultz, Downtown Indy’s senior vice president of marketing.

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