IndyGo bypasses former Harrison College site in search for more space

IndyGo has abandoned the prospect of buying the $7.5 million former Harrison College site downtown, and instead is eyeing a much larger property at 3049 N. Post Road as it searches for more space for employees and buses.

The shift in interest has broad support from IndyGo’s board of directors, several of whom had expressed concerns about the suitability of the Harrison College site at 550 E. Washington St.

IndyGo is searching for additional space because it has outgrown its current headquarters at 1501 W. Washington St., just west of the Indianapolis Zoo. The transit agency’s staff and bus fleet have grown in recent years due to the launch of the Red Line and other route improvements

IndyGo has 897 employees, up from 627 in 2017, and the agency says the only way it can practice social distancing is if some of its administrative employees work from home. Its current fleet of 209 buses already crowds the West Washington Street facility, especially overnight, and the fleet is expected to grow to 271 buses once the Purple Line and Blue Lines are built.

IndyGo’s staff had identified the former Harrison College site, just east of the IndyGo transit center downtown, as a potential expansion location.

The property, which consists of a vacant 50,000-square-foot building on a 0.92-acre lot, is listed at $7.5 million

But IndyGo now is considering a 246,088-square-foot building on a 17-acre lot at the northeast corner of Post Road and 30th Street. The building is currently owned by the Tippman Group, a Fort Wayne company. The property has an asking price of $3.5 million.

Part of the building needs renovations, but the structure offers adequate space and ceiling heights to accommodate IndyGo buses, IndyGo CEO Inez Evans told board members at a meeting late last month.

At that meeting, Evans presented board members with multiple options: IndyGo could choose to purchase the property for a yet-undetermined amount, or it could enter into a lease-to-purchase agreement in which IndyGo would sign a lease of 10 to 15 years, then buy the property for $1 at the end of the lease.

IndyGo’s board voted 5-0 to proceed with the next step in the process—acquiring two independent appraisals of the property. Board member Richard Harry Wilson Jr. was not present at the meeting and did not cast a vote.

As a public entity, IndyGo is prohibited from paying more than the appraised value if it acquires real estate. The agency must secure two independent appraisals, and the average of those two appraisals becomes the maximum purchase price.

Securing the appraisals does not commit IndyGo to purchasing the site, but having the appraisals will help the board decide how to proceed.

In May, board members Juan Gonzalez, Tommie Jones and Lise Pace all voted against securing appraisals for the Harrison College site. At the June meeting, all three offered comments in support of the Post Road property.

Jones had been opposed to the Harrison College site because it offered office space only. The 50,000-square-foot office building occupies most of the 0.92-acre site.

At the June board meeting, Jones said she likes the Post Road property because it has enough space for buses.

“We’re in the transportation business, and the property that was presented to us last time really did not discuss our transportation—and I wasn’t interested in that for that reason,” Jones said. “Because whatever we do, we must protect our buses and have them be inside and be able to be managed and worked on.”

Gonzalez said the Post Road site is better suited for IndyGo’s needs, and he also likes that the project would contribute to much-needed redevelopment on the city’s east side.

Pace agreed with Gonzalez. “I think this facility offers a lot of opportunity.”

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

One thought on “IndyGo bypasses former Harrison College site in search for more space

  1. The site offers redevelopment opportunity, but having IndyGo redevelop it would take a large commercial property off the tax rolls. Its assessed value is about $2.6 million, and it pays about $80,000 in property taxes and $10,000 in stormwater fees. Almost half the property tax goes to schools.