Officials want input on recasting City-County Building, leaning toward residential

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The Indianapolis City-County Building. (IBJ file photo)

Indianapolis is getting serious about possible redevelopment of the City-County Building, now that half of the 28-story monolith is set to be empty within months.

City-county staffers are working on a request for information to hear directly from developers on the potential for the 735,000-square-foot center of local government at 200 E. Washington St.

In addition to possible uses for the City-County Building, local officials want to know about potential requests for city subsidies, according to Controller Ken Clark.

“I want to give everyone the opportunity to tell us what they would do with it,” Clark told IBJ.

The building has its selling points, like its location smack in the middle of downtown Indianapolis, towering views of the cityscape, green space out front and a valuable 660-space underground parking lot.

But the garage alone has about $8 million in deferred maintenance, Clark told IBJ in a May interview. That’s on top of decades of deferred maintenance throughout the 59-year-old structure—and an outdated layout, all the way down to the elevator bays.

The sheer amount of space the bays take up across all of the tower’s floors “really cut down the ability of a developer to envision floors with an adequate amount of square footage,” Mayor Joe Hogsett told reporters at an August 24 briefing.

And with so much office space becoming available since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s unclear if another old, large office building would be in high demand.

So city-county staff are writing the RFI “very specifically to lean toward housing, as at least a part of the proposal,” Clark said.

“The RFI would say, ‘Could it be [housing]? Is there something in the design or layout of this building that precludes a residential conversion?’ Like, tell us if we’re crazy,” said Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett.

He emphasized promoting Indy’s downtown as a neighborhood in addition to a business district to create a more “resilient” area.

“We’re over-reliant upon workforce and convention visitors, tourists,” Bennett said. “That’s 150,000 to 250,000 people a day during normal times. But when they’re all gone, restaurants and other service businesses can’t make it on carryout only.”

If the city comes across some proposals it likes, “there’s no option that isn’t on the table” for where the rest of local government will go, Clark said. Most law enforcement and criminal justice agencies are moving to the Community Justice Campus in the Twin Aire neighborhood by early 2022, leaving the City-County Building half vacant.

City estimates of the office space needed by the remaining government agencies are out of date thanks to the pandemic and increased remote work, according to Clark. But even under an old Office of Finance and Management plan, there was too much empty square footage to backfill, he said.

The city owns a number of buildings that would be a “piece of the equation” for a new HQ, including the former City Hall at 202 N. Alabama St. The city also has space in 200 different locations across Indianapolis, Clark said. Empty commercial space could also come into play.

But that’s well into the future.

“The building doesn’t go vacant until next year, so in terms of a timeline, it’s not like there’s some huge rush, necessarily,” Clark said.

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20 thoughts on “Officials want input on recasting City-County Building, leaning toward residential

  1. Let me see if I can understand. This is not meant to blame anyone. It is just to see if we are all on the same page as what to we want for our economy,
    Estimates of vacant space down town: City/county building 750,000 SQ Gold building ( If prosecutor leaves) 100,000 SQ. salesforce $400,000-500,000 SQ Rolls Royce 500,000 (?) Jail 600,000 other government and Business Working from home (sure they are) 300,000 SQ FT. So 2,650,000 SQ FT. of space to back filled with Residents moving downtown. Obviously this is the situation every city in America.
    GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

  2. The very idea of residential in the historically significant 1962 city county building seems short sighted and contrived. Seriously! That building was built and paid for by the tax payers for the tax payers and now the new hip and trendy idealist want more residential. It seems funny that Indy Parks, Department of Public Works, Department of Neighborhood Services (whatever it’s called now) all pay rent to be in an out of the way location without adequate parking on South Madison Avenue, all owned by a private developer that has already gotten his financial return from the original investment. This location is not user-citizen accessible or friendly. May be convert that building to residential instead. The city is currently rebuilding Market Street into the pedestrian promenade it once was, and for what, a new front door for a private residential redo? Lets move government services back into the City County Building and quit this pie in the sky movement of keeping our government services spread out in other private owned buildings. And apparently Robert H remains in his sophomoric mentality!

  3. Robert H. It is a sad that some only want to go negative rather than face possible problems head on. hopefully one day you will try to see if the iceberg is out there, rather than sail through night hoping not to hit it.

  4. I don’t see how the CCB can be used for residential. I mean I know absolutely nothing about residential development but everything about it screams office tower.

    It is also my understanding that the rent the city and county services pay for the CCB is very, very cheap. Bringing services back into a central location might be best as leases end up expiring. With the uncertainty that COVID is bringing in terms of office space, it may be best to just hold onto the property and keep it in use for now.

  5. I echo the comments of Paul A., Kevin P., and Matthew S. This whole thing is ridiculous, starting with the judicial offices to the purely resident Twin-Aire neighborhood several miles away. I didn’t know they were emptying out the CCB completely. And they think they’re going to turn it into a residential building? Of course, we taxpayers get to subsidize any such development. Why? Because no developer would turn that building into residential if the developer had to assume the risk of the idea flopping. So let taxpayers take the risk.

    The most obvious use of the CCB is for commercial office space. But there is zero demand for commercial office space now. Companies are cutting back on their commercial space given the trend toward telecommuting. And city offices are going to be paying rent at other locations? So stupid.

    The sad thing is all the city’s politicians’ care about is lining the pockets of developers, not doing what is in the best interests of Indy residents. This sell-out of taxpayers has been bipartisan in nature and been going on for a long time. It’s time for it to stop.

  6. Maybe a combination of office and hotel. Change the facade to glass like on regions tower. Just don’t tear it down! Our skyline is already weak enough!

  7. This is ridiculous. The prosecutors office should be the first to move to this building, along with other city/county offices. Add a shuttle that goes to the justice center frequently. No private developer will do this without a significant amount of money from the city. What would happen to the fairly new Lugar Plaza if the building was sold to a private developer? This doesn’t make much sense to me.

    1. Unfortunately the City spent $5-8 Million? on that worthless plaza before fixing the parking garage underneath it! That is kind of like the Surf Side Condos fixing their pool without fixing the structural foundation first!

    2. It’s fun to bag on Joe Hogsett and it is also sometimes appropriate but I don’t think they would have been able to forecast “global pandemic wipes out commercial real estate market” when they started the plan for the justice center.

    3. Kevin P., The plaza acts as the first waterbarrier to the garage so replacing it was the first step needed to protect and preserve the garage. As someone who actually reviewed this garage, I can you tell you that they are doing things correctly. A lot of further maintenance is needed, but they addressed one of the larger sources of deterioration which was water infiltration.

  8. Hogsett and his band of leftist care so much about the homeless, panhandlers and riff-raff, perhaps they should “rethink” the C-C Building and convert the vacant space into new spaces for the homeless. Let’s see how Pothole Joe and his sidekicks like riding the elevators daily with some of their favorite constituents.

    1. Comment is counterproductive and useless for providing productive dialogue. This type of banter is just what is not needed and this type of thinking is what leads to further dysfunction. The less of it in the city, the better for all. Can an explanation of “leftist” be provided in regard to reuse of the CCB — “leftist” compared to what? So, what is the “right-list” solution that will eradicate homelessness and panhandling and perhaps riff-raff discourse? One must bear in mind, the homeless cannot be compelled to remain in any shelter. And, do potholes only occur in cities or locations that are so-called “leftist” — should this be the case, which cities are pothole free?

  9. Everyone seems to be missing the point that they determined over 4 years ago that they would be selling this building because they did not need the space it provided for the services/offices needed. This is YEARS in the making and not some new idea.

    1. I’m sorry sir, but we can’t have logical thought or facts here. This is the internet. We come here to fight with strangers and determine our own facts. We’re going to have to ask you to leave. Perhaps your “truth” will be more welcome at your local watering hole. Good day.

    2. I’m sure IMPD could use more space, and like mentioned earlier, Indy Parks, DPW staff, Code Enforcement-Neighborhood Services, not to mention other rent paying government offices and staff, could all probably refill the building and have a centralized user and access friendly place for government services. The idea 4 years ago to abandon was short sighted and somewhat premature!

  10. It’s far easier to do business at the Madison complex, which is just south of downtown and has a parking lot rather than finding (and paying) to park downtown. And, the CCB is inefficient for City employees who spend much of their time in the field. It was built in 1962, so it’s terribly outdated as office space.

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