A City-County Council committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve $37 million in bonds to demolish a former jail and renovate portions of the City-County Building ahead of a planned consolidation of city employees from satellite offices.
About 550 employees working in leased and city-owned locations around Indianapolis are expected to be moved into the City-County Building by the end of 2024, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office announced in September. Before that move, the Hogsett administration plans to make changes to several city-owned properties.
The City-County Council Administration and Finance Committee advanced a proposal brought to the committee by Joe Glass, executive director and chief counsel for the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank. The proposal calls for $37 million in facility improvement revenue bonds to be used to finance the demolition of the former Marion County Jail 1, parking garage improvements, and a modernization and restructuring of the City-County Building.
The bond proposal will be considered by the full City-County Council at its Dec. 4 meeting and, if approved, by the bond bank at its Dec. 18 meeting.
The city plans to have the former Jail I, 40 S. Alabama St., demolished by the end of 2024. The county’s forensic services agency will vacate the building earlier next year for a new facility at the Community Justice Campus.
The city is hoping to redevelop the former Jail I site, but no formal plan has been released.
The jail demolition is projected to cost $10 million, but Glass said the price could rise. The presentation to the committee noted that the project might require asbestos abatement, which would drive up the cost. That is why the bond request is higher than the projected total cost, Glass said.
The 28-story City-County Building was left nearly half-vacant last year when county courts moved to the new Community Justice Campus in the Twin Aire neighborhood. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Downtown District, which is currently based in Union Station, will move to the City-County Building’s east wing as part of the restructuring.
About $2.7 million in bonds would fund the demolition of courtrooms and holding cells on the fourth and sixth floors of the 61-year-old City-County Building. They are also expected to pay for modern office furniture, flooring, wiring, appliances, updated break rooms, moving costs and a remodeling to fit IMPD workspaces in the east wing.
On the first floor, the city aims to create a more efficient and modern public-facing space to suit the police department’s needs.
An update of the building’s electrical and HVAC systems is expected to cost $10 million.
Repairs to the city employee parking garage will cost an estimated $10 million and are expected to be complete before Dec. 10, 2024. The city intends to use the funds to ensure the garage is structurally sound, repair areas affected by water leaks, reseal the structure with a water-resistant membrane and restripe the lot.
IBJ first reported in September that the city had scrapped a redevelopment plan for the tower in favor of consolidating workers in the building.
The three-phase move is intended to create a dense grouping of employees downtown and save taxpayer dollars. The city estimated it would save $450,000 on office leases annually beginning in 2024.
The first phase includes moving the Engineering Division of the Department of Public Works, the Planning Division of Indy Parks and the entire Department of Business and Neighborhood Services, which are all housed at privately-leased space at 1200 Madison Ave. About 300 workers will move during Phase 1, which will be completed by the end of this year, the city said.
The city leases the Madison Avenue space for $1.3 million per year. The city estimates the first move will cost about $2 million, including moving expenses, space buildout and furniture.
The second phase of the consolidation plan will see Marion County Community Corrections move from nearly 29,000 square feet at Jail I to space on the sixth floor of the City-County Building, alongside the Marion County Clerk. The cost for that move has not been projected.