Whitestown planning $20M aquatic facility at former junkyard site

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Whitestown is planning a major redevelopment project at the former Wrecks Inc. junkyard site near Interstate 65. (Photo provided by town of Whitestown)

Whitestown officials announced plans Friday for a $20 million aquatic facility that will be the first phase of a redevelopment project to turn a former automotive junkyard into a mixed-use development near Interstate 65.

Indianapolis-based Milhaus is working to redevelop about 100 acres along Indianapolis Road, west of I-65 and south of Exit 130. Along with the aquatic facility, town officials have future plans for a fieldhouse, hotel, apartments, offices, commercial space and more.

The proposed redevelopment is the realization of several years of work to turn the former 135-acre Wrecks Inc. junkyard property on Whitestown’s west side into a mixed-use district called Maurer Commons.

Town officials plan to break ground on the $20 million aquatic facility in late 2023. The facility is expected to open in 2025. A name for the center has not been determined.

“[The aquatic facility is] something that has been at the top of the list on every survey we’ve done in talking with residents over the course of time,” Whitestown Town Council President Clinton Bohm said.

The council will consider authorizing the first steps toward a public-private partnership for the project, including the adoption of a build-operate-transfer process, at its next meeting, on April 12.

A build-operate-transfer arrangement—which was authorized by a 2017 state law—is a form of public-private partnership that shifts the burden of cost overruns to a developer.

The town will invite proposals for the project, and the town council will select a private partner for the facility. The partner will operate and manage the facility, while the town will retain ownership.

Bohm said the project will be financed without raising property taxes.

“The aquatics facility is expected to be funded through revenue generated as a direct result of Whitestown’s industrial and commercial growth, such as tax-increment financing,” Bohm said.

Wrecks Inc. was founded in 1949 by brothers Michael B. “Mickey” Maurer and Julius Maurer and moved from Indianapolis to Whitestown in the early 1950s.

Julius was the father of Michael S. Maurer, also known as Mickey, who is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns the Indianapolis Business Journal.

The business was well-known for its three-line neon sign along I-65 that says, “Wrecks Inc. We meet by accident. Drive carefully.” Bohm said the town and developer have not decided if the sign will stay in place.

“Plans for the sign remain unknown at this time, but I know it’s something that many folks have been talking about and so it will be a point of conversation as we move forward,” he said.

The land has been vacant since the early 2000s and required environmental remediation to put it in developable condition.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a certificate of completion for the site in late 2022.

The area of Whitestown near the former Wrecks Inc. site has experienced redevelopment in recent years. Little League International opened its central region headquarters in June 2021, while residents began moving into the 240-unit Nese Apartments in August.

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