Timeline: Ambrose and the GM stamping plant site

Hopes were high nearly 2-1/2 years ago, when Ambrose was selected to redevelop the GM stamping plant site.

2017

Jan. 12: Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration shares its vision for the former GM stamping plant site—which has sat vacant since the plant’s closure in 2011. The outline—based on nearly six months of community engagement—focuses on connecting the site with the rest of downtown by creating a new neighborhood, riverfront park and unique architectural features.

February: Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust—or RACER Trust, the entity charged with finding new uses for former GM properties nationwide—requests new proposals for redeveloping the 103-acre site, after previous plans fall through.

March 6: Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group meets with residents of The Valley neighborhood—where the stamping plant is located—at Ratio Architects, to present Ambrose’s ideas for the development and solicit feedback.

April: City tells Ambrose—before the company submits its bid—that it would provide $75 to $100 million in incentives to support the development if Ambrose’s project is selected by RACER.

May 2: RACER chooses Ambrose’s $550 million, mixed-use proposal from four bids. The proposal calls for 2.7 million square feet of development over 15 years, including 535,000 square feet in the first five years. The project features 250 apartments in Phase 1, along with office and retail space, a hotel, and public green spaces.

May 2: Infosys announces plans to open an $8.7 million tech and innovation hub in the Indianapolis area, employing as many as 2,000 high-skilled employees by the end of 2021.

May 23: Infosys selects OneAmerica Tower as the home for its first Technology and Innovation Hub in the United States. The company indicates it may look for a larger, permanent location for those operations.

June: Infosys begins looking for a permanent site for its Innovation Hub and considers multiple sites throughout Indianapolis, including the former GM stamping plant property.

Aug. 29: Deputy Mayor Thomas Cook meets with Ambrose CEO Aasif Bade at the Capital Grille, 40 W. Washington St., to discuss the company’s plans for the GM stamping plant site.

Sept. 5: City officials meet with Ambrose staff to discuss the stamping plant property.

Sept. 7: Amazon announces plans to request proposals for a second North American headquarters, which it projects would bring 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in development. The GM stamping plant site is one of a small handful of locations discussed locally as a possibility for the development, which Amazon says would require at least 100 acres.

Fall 2017: City officials approach Ambrose to discuss the possibility of the state acquiring about 55 acres for nearly $37 million that could be used as a new tech campus and training center for Infosys.

Sept. 19: Cook meets with Bade at the City-County Building to discuss the stamping plant project and the various possibilities for the site.

October: Residents near the stamping plant, including those in The Valley neighborhood, express opposition to the Infosys project during a monthly neighborhood meeting.

October: City and other local entities work to create a bid for the Amazon HQ2 project.

Oct. 12: City officials, including Cook, meet with Bade and other Ambrose officials, along with RACER’s Bruce Rasher, at Ambrose’s office, 55 Monument Circle, to discuss financing for the stamping plant project, including a deal for Infosys.

Oct. 18: Indianapolis and Fishers submit a unified bid for Amazon’s HQ2 to locate in central Indiana as part of a campaign coordinated by the Indy Chamber, but don’t say much about the proposal.

Oct. 23: Amazon says it received 238 bids from North American cities for its second headquarters.

Oct. 26: Ambrose files a zoning change request to modify the stamping plant site from commercial and industrial to the CBD-S designation, which allows for special commercial districts in and near downtown.

Nov. 1:  Mali Jeffers, a longtime community advocate, is hired by Ambrose to oversee community relations and marketing for the stamping plant project. The hire is made public in January.

Nov. 1: City and Ambrose meet to discuss financing for that project.

Nov. 8: City officials meet with Indianapolis Bond Bank officials about the project’s financing.

Nov. 13 and 22: Ambrose and city meet to discuss the former site.

Dec. 13: City officials, Bade and Rasher meet to discuss the project, as pressure continue to build for Ambrose to sell the city and state land for Infosys.

Dec. 14: Thomas Cook, Bade and Rasher meet with Gov. Holcomb to discuss the stamping plant land.

Dec. 20: Ambrose receives approval from the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission to rezone the GM Stamping plant site.

Dec. 28: City and Ambrose officials, including then-Vice President of Business Development Andrew Greenwood, meet to discuss the project.

2018

January: City, state back off plan to take stamping plant land for Infosys and decide to help company find land elsewhere, with Browning Investments as the developer.

Jan. 3: Cook, Bade and Rasher meet to discuss the stamping plant property.

Jan. 8: Cook speaks with Ambrose officials by phone about how the project will move forward.

Jan. 18: City learns the central Indiana bid is one of 20 finalists for Amazon HQ2. The stamping plant is viewed as the likeliest site for that development. The city and Ambrose begin working toward a preliminary project agreement to demonstrate site control and city support for the redevelopment of the stamping plant property.

Jan. 23: Cook, other city officials, and public and private stakeholders meet at Innovative, 429 N. Pennsylvania St., to discuss Amazon HQ2 bid.

Jan. 31 and Feb. 7: City officials and stakeholders meet at Innovative to discuss the Amazon bid.

Feb. 11: City officials meet with accounting firm Crowe LLP officials to discuss financing for the stamping plant project.

Feb. 21: City officials and stakeholders meet at Innovative to discuss the Amazon bid.

Feb. 21: City and Ambrose sign a deal valued at $26.8 million for the stamping plant project’s first phase. The funds, mostly intended for public infrastructure, are to be dispersed in three installments, with the first being $8 million. The deal includes a clause stating the city will not take the land by force, as Ambrose alleges was attempted in 2017 for Infosys.

Feb. 22: RACER expresses concern to the city and Ambrose about the project incentives, because they are lower than what the city had previously indicated it would be willing to provide. The city assures Ambrose and RACER additional funding would be provided in the future.

Feb. 26: City receives a quarterly project update from Ambrose.

Feb. 28: City officials and stakeholders meet at Innovative to discuss the Amazon bid.

March 21: Amazon reportedly visits Indianapolis for site inspections—believed to include the stamping plant site.

March 22: RACER’s sale of the stamping plant site to Ambrose closes. According to public records, the price is $3 million.

April 9: Ambrose publicizes the purchase.

April 24: IBJ learns Infosys plans to build a 125-acre technology park on airport property, through a sweeping agreement with the state and city officials.

April 26: Infosys announces its $245 million plans for the airport during a news conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. The plans include a $35 million training center in the first phase of construction. The development is expected to have a college feel.

June 14: Ambrose and city officials discuss the stamping plant project by phone.

Summer: Additional meetings between Ambrose and city officials held to discuss plans for the stamping plant project. Ambrose also finalizes the size and scope of the project’s first phase.

Aug. 22 and Sept. 9: Ambrose and city meet to discuss the stamping plant project.

Oct. 12: Ambrose announces expanded plans that bring the cost of the project—which it has named Waterside—to $1.4 billion. Site preparation is planned for late that year and early 2019; construction is set to begin in late 2019. Plan now includes 1,350 residential units, 620 hotel rooms, 2.75 million square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail.

Nov. 2: Ambrose hires JLL to market Waterside and secure tenants.

Nov. 8: Cook meets with Bade about the development.

Nov. 13: Amazon announces it plans to split its HQ2 project between New York City and Arlington, Virginia—ending Indianapolis’ long-shot bid. The company also says it will create a logistics hub in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nov. 26: Cook meets with Bade about how to move Waterside forward after the Amazon announcement.

Dec. 13: Cook, other city officials and Ambrose representatives meet with Crowe LLP to discuss Waterside.

Dec. 18: City and Ambrose meet to discuss Waterside.

2019

Jan. 28: City officials meet with Ambrose to suggest changes to the project’s infrastructure needs and a revised construction timeline.

Jan. 30: Lilly Endowment announces it will contribute $300,000 for a professional competition to help design Waterside. The grant will cover travel, presentations and design for three finalists.

Feb. 25: City and Ambrose meet to discuss Waterside.

April: Longtime Ambrose executive and the company’s co-founder, Pat Chittenden, leaves to start Westfield-based Patch Development. He takes with him two senior Ambrose executives: Greenwood, and Vice President of Finance Keith Hoener.

April: Ambrose says it receives a written offer to buy the Waterside property from a “well-known developer”—which it has declined to identify—at $650,000 per acre for the then-103-acre site. The company says it rejected the offer, indicating it still plans to move forward with the project.

April 18: The city’s Department of Metropolitan Development puts out a request for proposals for public infrastructure and two public parking garages for Waterside. The RFP indicates the city plans to spend up to $36.7 million on labor, material and financing during the first phase of the project. The RFP is rendered a formality, as Ambrose is selected.

April 19: Ambrose puts out an RFP for the Design Waterside competition.

April 26: Three international architectural firms are notified they were selected as finalists for the Design Waterside competition: Hood Design Studio, Shohetta and SCAPE.

May 15: Finalists are announced. They spend the next several months competing publicly and behind closed doors on various aspects of the project.

May: Ambrose hires Isaac Bamgbose away from Hendricks Commercial’s Bottleworks District project to oversee Waterside development. The company also hires Jason Sturman of Milhaus and Derek Naber of Holladay Properties to help manage the company’s projects, including Waterside.

May 16: City and Ambrose meet to discuss Waterside. Talks about available funding mechanisms become heated.

May 20: Ambrose hosts Design Waterside breakfast for stakeholders.

May 22: Ambrose announces Indianapolis-based Gene B. Glick Co. will build and manage Waterside’s first slate of apartments, expected to cost $45 million. Ambrose says it plans to spend a total of $200 million in the initial phase of development.

May 29: City receives its quarterly project update from Ambrose.

June 6: Ambrose sends information to potential investors about the firm’s new Opportunity Zone fund, which aims to raise up to $350 million for various projects, including Waterside.

June 13: Ambrose, Exhibit Columbus and the Central Indiana Community Foundation host a breakfast meeting for the three Design Waterside finalists, who have spent two days in Indianapolis researching the stamping plant site and the city.

Summer: Ambrose says it received lease commitments from multiple prospective tenants, including Rolls-Royce, Republic Airlines and TopGolf. It also says it strikes a deal with an unidentified national coworking company to secure 200,000 square feet of shared office space. The combined uses are valued at about $300 million.

July: The company finalizes plans to expand its plans for Waterside to a $1.38 billion development. The modified plans include 1,350 residential units, 620 hotel rooms, 2.75 million square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail space. The project is projected to create up to 12,000 new jobs. The company plans to spend $300 million in the first phase of the development, slated to conclude in 2023.

July 2: Ambrose tells the Securities and Exchange Commission it has raised $51 million from 33 investors in the first round of Opportunity Zone funding. It does not say whether it plans to pursue additional rounds.

July 3: The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission authorizes the DMD to enter an agreement with Ambrose for Waterside’s public infrastructure. Ambrose hires Wilhelm as its construction contractor.

July 9: Ambrose and DMD officials meet at Mile Square Coffee.

July 11: City and Ambrose meet about the TIF pledge tied to Waterside.

July 11: City officials, including representatives of the Mayor’s Office and City-County Council President Vop Osili, meet with Ambrose to discuss Waterside.

July 15: Ambrose email’s city an updated TIF pledge related to Waterside.

Aug. 14: Ambrose hosts a private, internal, midway review in Waterside Design competition for finalists to return to Indy and present initial concepts to jurors and stakeholders.

Aug. 15-19: Ambrose solicits feedback on finalists’ designs from city officials and other stakeholders.

Aug. 23: Ambrose meets with city to discuss more public funding for its now-$300 million first phase of Waterside. City says it might not provide more funding.

Aug. 26: Ambrose tells city it might scale back its investment in Waterside—to the original $92 million.

Sept. 4: Bamgbose leaves Ambrose after just five months, saying his vision for Waterside and the company’s “did not align.”

Sept. 9: Ambrose meets with city officials, who say it’s unlikely they will provide additional funding for Waterside’s first phase—and that they have not yet identified all the funding sources for their first phase $26.8 million commitment. The city also says it has put a hold on the project’s infrastructure design, as requested by Ambrose.

Sept. 10: Ambrose releases plans for the Oct. 2 Design Waterside final competition, during which the three finalists will present their designs to a jury and members of the public.

Sept. 16: Ambrose quietly sells 28.5 acres in two parcels near the stamping plant to the Indianapolis Zoo, as part of an agreement the parties reached when Ambrose acquired the land. A 12-acre parcel was part of the stamping plant site; a 16.5-acre parcel is just north, along West Washington Street.

Sept. 19: Ambrose tells the city it might be forced to stop developing the project without additional incentives, but city officials say they are unable to provide more funding.

Sept. 26: Ambrose tells city officials and residents of The Valley neighborhood that the company will announce its plans the next day to withdraw from the Waterside project. Thomas Cook, from the Mayor’s Office, tells Bade—an hour after being informed of the company’s withdrawal from the project—the city plans to acquire the stamping plant site.

Sept. 27: Ambrose publicly announces it will not develop Waterside and will sell the site as part of a change in focus, from mixed-use development to e-commerce and industrial projects. Ambrose says it has hired JLL to market the property. The company also says it plans to continue with the Design Waterside competition Oct. 2.

Sept. 28: Ambrose says it has received “extensive interest” in the property from local and national developers who want to carry out the proposed vision for Waterside, including many willing to pay in excess of $50 million for the property.

Sept. 30: Ambrose quietly cancels the Oct. 2 design competition amid public backlash and media attention over the company’s exit from Waterside.

October: Discussions between the city and Ambrose about moving forward with the project stall out. Ambrose says its fight with the city has injured its relationships with other business partners.

Oct. 2: City leaders send Ambrose a letter saying the city would like to acquire the stamping plant site to pursue development—and that, if Ambrose refuses to comply, the city will pursue eminent domain.

Oct. 3: City tells IBJ it still has big plans for the site, despite Ambrose’s withdrawal from the Waterside project.

Oct. 10: Ambrose responds to the city’s eminent domain threat with a letter of its own, asserting that such a process would be invalid. The letter says the firm is willing to “discuss with the city the best path forward for Waterside and welcomes the city’s participation if it wants to be a productive part of the process,” but that it must come to the table in good faith. Ambrose threatens legal action if the city pursues eminent domain.

Oct. 16: In a new letter, the city reasserts its eminent domain right. Ambrose responds the following day with allegations of defamation and slander, alleging the city is tarnishing its image by making false claims about its rights to the property.

Oct. 22: Ambrose files a notice of tort claims with the city—a precursor to a lawsuit—alleging the fight over property rights have disrupted the developer’s efforts to sell the land. In the notice, an attorney for the developer says it plans to pursue claims of slander of title, defamation, tortious interference, fraud “and any and all other relevant tort claims,” after the company suffered an estimated $30 million in harm. The letter says Ambrose expects to receive $65 million to $100 million for the property.

Oct. 23: Ambrose officials and legal counsel meet with city representatives to discuss a possible deal for the land. The city suggests it could pay $6 million—twice the amount Ambrose paid for the property—which Ambrose flatly rejects. The city also says it has hired two appraisers to examine the site. The meeting, planned to last longer than one hour, ends in 40 minutes.

November: Ambrose says it received an appraisal of the now-91-acre stamping plant site valued at “a conservative $50 million.”

Nov. 4: Bade tells IBJ that Ambrose plans to file a lawsuit against the city in the coming months.

Nov. 12: City officials meet with Indy Eleven team owner Ersal Ozdemir and other team officials at the City-County building to discuss the franchise’s plans to construct a 20,000-seat soccer stadium and mixed-use development worth $550 million. Ambrose later alleges the city wants to provide land from Waterside to the franchise for that project.

Nov. 19: Ambrose files a lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis, alleging breach of contract in their $26.8 million incentive agreement for the Waterside project. Ambrose also lays out allegations the city tried to take part of the stamping plant site for the Infosys project and that it’s negotiating with Indy Eleven for use of the property.

Nov. 19: Indy Eleven denies it has an interest in the Waterside property and says it is looking elsewhere in the city for its development.

 

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