The Fishers City Council voted 6-2 Monday to approve a project agreement for Envoy Inc.’s proposed $52 million mixed-use development at 106th Street and Lantern Road.
Envoy Inc., a Fishers-based development and construction firm, is planning to build 280 apartments and 23,400 square feet of commercial space on vacant land near the 106th Street/Interstate 69 interchange in Fishers.
Prior to the vote, the council’s review of the Highline Project and a requested $10.13 million bond to help fund the development turned to discussion of Envoy CEO Scott Baldwin’s role in the project. In 2020, Baldwin was elected to serve as the District 20 representative to the Indiana State Senate—a district that includes Fishers.
Council member Jocelyn Vare, who voted against the project agreement, questioned whether the council and Fishers residents had been given enough time to scrutinize the proposal, which just came to public light last week. Vare also questioned whether the project should qualify for tax increment financing. Under the agreement, the city would take out a bond that would be paid back over 25 years with TIF proceeds.
“I learned about this project for the very first time only three days ago,” said Vare, one of two Democrats on the council. “I don’t know why this was the case, but I find it unacceptable.”
In addition to the lack of time to get resident feedback, Vare said the agreement wasn’t transparent enough to include mention of Baldwin’s involvement.
Council member John Weingardt said he was glad for the senator’s part in the project and reminded the public that there will be additional public review as the Highline goes through the required rezoning process. He touted Baldwin’s past service in the United States Marines Corp. and Army Reserve, as well as his time in local law enforcement agencies.
“I look at someone like this who is an entrepreneur in the community; he’s an elected official and I wish there was more like him,” he said.
Weingardt also pointed to other Envoy developments in downtown Fishers as evidence of the Highline project’s potential. Those projects include The Edge, a 62,000-square-foot mixed-use building with an attached parking garage at 116th Street and Lantern Road, and Spark, another mixed-use project with more than 200 apartments, a parking garage and retail space.
Crystal Neumann, the council’s other Democrat, also voted against the agreement. She told IBJ she voted against the agreement because she’d spoken to the developer about including composting, solar panels and other green infrastructure in the project, but the agreement didn’t include those features.
Steve Hardin, an attorney representing Envoy, said the project will bring a missing element to Delaware Park. He said Envoy’s Highline could bring a campus feel to the area, with walkability and commercial offerings.
In addition to a multi-use trail extending throughout the park, conceptual plans for the project include an outdoor event area with heaters and a stage. If it’s approved, the project could be completed by mid-August 2023.
“It’s wonderful real estate for the city to have to attract new companies and new employees,” Hardin said.
Two Fishers residents spoke against the project.
David Giffel said he’d prefer the developer locate the project on a previously developed property that is currently unoccupied instead of using untouched land. He also said that residents were promised the area would be developed with corporate headquarters, not high-density residential developments.
“I don’t like this apartment complex going in, especially the $10 million incentive,” Giffel said. “If they’re luxury apartments, why not charge a little extra and let’s do this organically.”
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the bond will be backed by the city, but the developer has agreed to pay for its full debt service. You can see all of our corrections here.