City incentives still in the works for Jail II redevelopment

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The developer behind the proposed revamp of the former Jail II and Arrestee Processing Center facilities on the eastern edge of downtown Indianapolis said he expects city incentives for the project to be secured by the end of this year.

Jeremy Stephenson, founder and managing partner of 1820 Ventures, said his firm’s $120 million plans for the properties at Market and Davidson streets are expected to receive proceeds from tax-increment financing bonds from the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development, although the amount has not yet been finalized.

The amount the project receives from the city will largely be determined by the amount the project is expected to generate in real estate taxes, because that’s where funding for tax-increment financing districts originates.

Additionally, he said the project—consisting of apartments, educational components, an event center, retail space and a co-working office area—could get state or federal tax credits because it involves the redevelopment of a historic property, the former Cole Motor Company campus. In fact, 1820’s project is known as the Cole Motor Redevelopment in an homage to longtime tenant.

“We are looking at other type of opportunities with historic tax credits,” Stephenson said Friday following IBJ’s Commercial Real Estate and Construction Power Breakfast panel discussion, in which he was a participant.

“The city has a lot of projects they are looking to take [through an incentive approval process] through the end of this year—and a lot of downtown development that is happening. We expect by the end of the year, we should be approved or through the process … of structuring bonds and the overall deal.”

Stephenson said that construction on the project could be begin next year, particularly since there are already some partners who have joined the project to help support it financially.

Scarlett Andrews, director of the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development, said the project is on a “parallel track” with the redevelopment of the downtown block that includes the Indianapolis City Market and Gold Building. Gershman Partners and Citimark Inc. were tabbed by the city earlier this year to redevelop the site.

Both projects are in the eastern portion of downtown and will likely secure TIF funds from the city.

“We think they’re on a pretty parallel track. We hope that we can bring a financial incentives package to the council and to the [Metropolitan Development Commission] later this year—that’s our goal,” she said.

Andrews said the Cole property will require a rezoning, while the City Market property requires a lease agreement. Gershman and Citimark are not buying the property on which they are building due to longstanding restrictions on site ownership.

She said in the case of the Cole Campus, it’s likely the site will act as a single-site TIF district, rather than be incorporated into the downtown TIF district as Elevator Hill has been—another project that involves Stephenson and 1820.

In 2021, Stephenson said he planned to spend hundreds of millions of dollars at Elevator Hill to improve the East Washington Street property and give it an overall master plan. The site was at one time home to the Angie’s List corporate campus.

While Stephenson declined to share an updated figure, he said his firm remains committed to the site. It is already building the first apartment project on the campus, known as Gather. Two other projects, another apartment structure and an office building, are in the early stages of development, he said.

“So, $250 million [in investment] is certainly achievable in terms of what the site is zoned for and what could get built there—but that was last year’s number,” Stephenson said. “We are going about it in a way, that we’re really thinking incrementally about what’s the next [step]. … We’re taking it at a speed that measures where the market’s at [as we try to] develop it.”

As for what comes next with city-owned real estate—city officials are trying to offload as much as 18 acres of land in the downtown core over the next few years—Andrews said sights are set on the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport, which is in the process of being decommissioned. There will also be opportunities with Jail I at Maryland and Delaware streets, the City-County Building and maybe even Old City Hall.

“We’re still eager to see the heliport be decommissioned as an FAA property and become available for redevelopment, so we’ve been working with the Indianapolis Airport Authority on next steps there,” Andrews said.

“The heliport is very much on our mind, as well as some other sites that had been offered through [request for information] processes in the past … that might have their moment in the next several months,” Andrews said.

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