Environmental work on the former General Motors stamping plant property west of downtown is nearly complete, as plans move ahead for Elanco Animal Health Inc. to build a $100 million corporate headquarters on the site.
Remediation on the now 91-acre site has been ongoing for the past two years after the land was sold for $3 million to Ambrose Property Group in 2018 for a planned, massive development project that was called off.
The state of Indiana recently bought the property from Ambrose for the Elanco project and a planned revitalization of the White River riverbank and surrounding neighborhood. The Indianapolis Zoo received another 13 acres in a donation from Ambrose last year.
State officials and a representative of the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust—the entity initially responsible for overseeing the property’s redevelopment—told IBJ that the remediation efforts are in their final stages, with final certification expected in the next few months.
The now-demolished 2.1 million-square-foot metal-stamping plant opened on the site in 1930 and closed in 2011.
“We’re very far along on this site,” said Bruce Rasher, development manager for RACER, which was founded in 2011 as part of a bankruptcy settlement and was responsible for cleaning up and getting dozens of former GM properties ready for redevelopment. “For this particular site, we sold it to Ambrose in a condition that was and still is suitable for development.”
He said a no-further-action status in already in place for the soil and another is expected in the coming months for the groundwater.
“There is nothing about the environmental conditions at the site or the environmental regulatory status that poses any impediment to its safe reuse by Elanco or any other buyers or users,” Rasher said.
Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger confirmed to IBJ there’s still “some work to do” on the property, but said he is confident the site will receive the groundwater release from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Ahead of its sale to the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Ambrose spent millions of dollars on additional testing for the property, Schellinger said. The state acquired the property in early December for about $25.5 million.
“The developer actually spent a lot of money on the side that [hasn’t been] talked about,” he said. “Did [they] spend $25 million? No. But did they just spend $3 million? No, they spent more. They did infrared readings of all the environmentals so they could give us a clean site.”
Ambrose has declined to say how much the firm invested in the Waterside project. An industry source told IBJ the figure is “millions upon millions of dollars.”
The firm has said the property was appraised for $50 million and it reportedly asked for at least $100 million in early talks with state officials.
The company—which is now developing several industrial projects in Indianapolis and across the United States—said in a statement last week it is pleased the stamping plant site will be developed by Elanco.
“We are thrilled with both Elanco and the IEDC’s plans for a new global headquarters at the former GM Stamping Plant,” the statement said. “We congratulate Elanco, the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, the IEDC and all of the those who made this historic investment happen.”