Emmis preparing to put 70 acres along I-65 up for sale

Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp. is preparing to put 70 acres of high-profile land it owns in Whitestown on the market.

The media firm has asked Whitestown to rezone the property along Interstate 65 from the light industrial zoning designation to the urban business zoning designation, which allows for a variety of uses, including retail, residential and hospitality. The land could fetch as much as $28 million, Emmis predicts.

The property, between East County Road 550S and Perry Worth Road, is near a planned new interstate exit and also the proposed site of a 1 million-square-foot shopping center that could be built by Gershman Partners.

The Indiana Department of Transportation agreed last fall to construct the new Whitestown exit to accommodate the town’s growing population and to ease congestion created by industry in the area. The exit, which is slated to be completed by 2021, is expected to accommodate development between the town's current retail center and it’s bustling industrial area.

Emmis—which owns 15 radio stations in Indianapolis, New York City and Austin, Texas—has six radio transmission towers on the property that transmit signals for Indianapolis radio station WFNI-AM 1070 "The Fan," formerly WIBC-AM. CEO Jeff Smulyan told IBJ the towers cold be relocated to make better use of the land.

Smulyan said moving the towers would be worth it if he can find the right buyer. The land’s estimated value is $150,000 to $400,000 per acre, he previously told IBJ.

Already, there’s a lot of interest in the land, he said.

“The zoning process has gone well. We’re just exploring our options,” Smulyan said. “Right now, we’re just going to listen to people and listen to proposals.”

Rezoning the land will make it easier to sell, Smulyan said.

“It’s the old story: If someone makes us an offer that makes sense, we’ll take it,” he said.

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