Editorial: Ozdemir’s vision for Eleven Park deserves ongoing support

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

Just imagine the possibilities.

With the purchase of one triangular piece of downtown property, developer Ersal Ozdemir and his Keystone Corp. have given new promise to his dream of a new Indy Eleven soccer stadium and commercial park, the city’s hopes for strong development along the White River and visions of giving the new Elanco headquarters the kind of live-work-play surroundings that could help reverse the city’s recent population slide.

As IBJ’s Mickey Shuey reports on page 1A, a subsidiary of Keystone Corp. has acquired the Diamond Chain manufacturing site and plans to locate his Eleven Park district there.

Acquisition of the site is the second major step toward Ozdemir’s plans for a 20,000-seat soccer stadium and the development of surrounding residential and commercial spaces on land that sits between West Street and White River.

The first significant stride toward making this project a reality came when the Legislature agreed to fund 80% of the stadium costs through a special taxing district it approved in 2018 that would funnel state and local taxes to the development.

The project has maneuvered through several fits and starts over the past three years—particularly the pandemic—but where the project has landed demands the attention of state and city officials to take reasonable and prudent steps to help make it happen. The project’s potential economic impact requires no less.

The site’s location is perfect to generate the kind of development synergy along the White River that city officials have long dreamed of.

For one thing, the site is located directly across the river from the former General Motors Stamping Plant, where work has begun on building the $100 million-plus global headquarters for Elanco Animal Health.

The company has said the 220,000-square-foot, six-story, glass-faced office structure on 40 acres “represents Elanco’s endeavor to build a post-COVID workplace destination, the company’s next era of growth and innovation.”

City officials know that part of the equation in making that vision a reality is activating captivating amenities and building nearby housing to create the kind of live-work-play atmosphere that will make downtown spaces attractive in this work-from-home era.

A bridge is planned to connect the Elanco and Eleven Park properties, possibly extending the Cultural Trail as well.

These developments are exactly the kind of thing city leaders say is needed to prevent the Indianapolis from losing population and slowing economic growth. The city lost population last year after two decades of sustained growth, IBJ’s Dave Lindquist notes on Page 3A, and commerce leaders want to reverse the slide.

Without question, Ozdemir’s vision still has a long way to go before it can become a reality. But the acquisition of an actual site builds the necessary momentum, and Ozedemir’s passion for the project shouldn’t be underestimated.

If he pulls it off, the city—and the region—will be better off for it.•

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