Creation of TIF district in Old Southside approved by council panel

The Indianapolis City-County Council’s Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee on Monday unanimously approved a proposal that would create a tax-increment financing district and economic development area in the Old Southside Historic District.

The plan will need final votes from the full council and Metropolitan Development Commission.

The Old Southside is bounded on the north by South Street, on the south by the CSX Railroad and Adler Street, on the east by Madison Avenue, and on the west by the White River.

The proposed tax-increment financing district, which would fund infrastructure improvements, encompasses an area south of McCarty Street to Interstate 70, and along South Meridian Street down to Arizona Street. The area includes the Babe Denny neighborhood and is home to landmark Indianapolis restaurant Shapiro's Delicatessen.

Jefferson Shreve, the councilman that represents the district, said the city and neighborhood groups are “really trying to build out this area that was really eviscerated when I-70 came through here.”

“It’s a dead expanse so close to the heart of our city,” Shreve said. “It’s been a very-much challenged part of town that is organically beginning to turn. I think we can accelerate that momentum.”

The economic development area encompasses a similar geography and is designed to “promote significant opportunities for gainful area employment, attract major new business enterprises to the area, and retain or expand a significant business enterprise” in the area. 

City officials said the area is primed for redevelopment, especially after the Old Southside last fall received Mayor Joe Hogsett’s designation as a Lift Indy neighborhood, which means the city will direct about $4 million in investments to the area over three years.

Among other improvements, the area is supposed to get an influx of affordable and market-rate housing, like the planned $72 million Kraft Factory Lofts mixed-use development.

Judith Essex, past president of the Old Southside Association, said the Lift Indy project “has started us down the path of realizing some of our hopes and dreams for our neighborhood.”

The city’s goals for the area are to “encourage and stimulate economic development in the Near South Gateway” and “encourage the economic resiliency of the area by increasing mixed-use development to supplement existing industrial activities,” according to a presentation.

Specifically, it wants to spend about $3 million the TIF district could generate to address infrastructure, drainage, sidewalks, lighting and beautification in the area. 

Organic development is occurring north of McCarty Street, said Tom Dale, president of the Stadium Village Business Association. 

“It’s south of McCarty [Street] where we really have the challenges and difficulty with new development,” Dale said. “We really need investment in drainage and infrastructure.” 

The proposal was cheered by several members of the council committee, with council Vice President Zach Adamson saying “this is exactly the kind of thing the TIF as a tool is designed for.”

“I’m really looking forward to supporting this today,” Adamson said.

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