Editorial: Prosecutor needs to get on board for Community Justice Campus

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

It’s a no-brainer, really.

Despite Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ hesitancy, he most certainly should move the Prosecutor’s Office from downtown to the new Community Justice Campus just three miles to the southeast.

Regardless of whether one thinks local government’s decision to build a nearly $600 million law enforcement and judiciary hub was prudent, the complex is set to open in December and now every component of Marion County’s criminal justice system needs to do its part to create an all-encompassing campus.

While we appreciate the prosecutor’s concerns about the additional cost his office could incur by making the move, he needs to join forces with Mayor Joe Hogsett and work with developer Browning Investments and its partner, Davis & Associates, to create a plan that is as cost-effective as possible.

IBJ and sister publication The Indiana Lawyer first reported Mears’ concerns on Tuesday, noting that his office already signed a much less expensive 16-year, three-month lease extension in 2017.

The 150-person agency occupies 85,369 square feet at its current building, paying about $17.50 per square foot, including utilities and janitorial services.

A move to the justice campus would begin at no less than $18 per square foot for about 82,000 square feet across at least three floors, according to a copy of a proposed lease obtained by IBJ through a public-records request. The cost would be more than $26 per square foot by the final year of the proposed 20-year lease.

Multiple real estate sources said the move would cost the Prosecutor’s Office an additional $7 to $8 per foot per year after factoring in other expenses.

All parties need to sit down and figure out how these costs can be contained and assure that the Prosecutor’s Office makes the move to help streamline the judiciary process and keep the campus’s development on track.

As Hogsett said this week: “It only makes sense for the Prosecutor’s Office to be physically located on the Community Justice Campus.”

If that doesn’t happen, it will quash Browning’s hopes to build a second professional building on the northern part of the site and endanger the Hogsett administration’s vision to help boost the Twin Aire neighborhood with the retail that a critical mass of office workers could bring.

Browning and Davis won’t build a second professional building on the site without a guaranteed government tenant, such as the Prosecutor’s Office. And the prosecutor’s failure to move could discourage other criminal-justice-related services from moving to the site.

For instance, a third phase of development for the campus envisions the Coroner’s Office and a crime lab moving there. But would that happen if the Prosecutor’s Office isn’t on site?

The hub of the campus—including the courts, the Sheriff’s Department and jail—is scheduled to open in December.

The first professional building is already in the works and is expected to house the Marion County Public Defender Agency and the Superior Court Probation Department, along with first-floor retail and dining.

So, the train for the Community Justice Campus has already left the station. The only destination is the Twin Aire neighborhood. And all related government services need to get on board.•


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2 thoughts on “Editorial: Prosecutor needs to get on board for Community Justice Campus

  1. If concern is increased costs for Prosecutor’s Office, why not match the current terms ($17/sqft) already in their budget and use other funds (not Prosecutor’s Office) to cover build out, moving expenses, and difference in rent? What other sources of funding are being considered?