Justice center contracts total nearly $10 million

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The city has not chosen a developer for its new $400-500 million criminal justice center. It hasn't even finalized plans, but Eyewitness News has learned it has already signed contracts for millions of dollars on the project.

The complex is planned for the west side of the old GM stamping plant, just southwest of downtown, a decision made in March.

The initial announcement to pursue a justice complex came in December, but discussions began long before that. The city controller signed its first contract in October, agreeing to pay Bingham Greenebaum Doll up to $1.5 million for legal services.

Three more contracts followed in the next few months. In December, two days before the announcement, the controller signed a contract for up to $3 million with KPMG Corporate Finance for various financial services.

A week later, the city signed a contract with Bose Public Affairs Group for $750,000 to "provide assistance on communications, messaging and media relations activities to the city and stakeholders as directed by the city."

In February, it signed a contract with Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. or HOK, for up to $4,695,376 for project development for services including site analysis, project design principles, budget estimates, the project schedule and performance specifications.

The total amount in contracts comes to $9,945,376.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard called such contracts "pretty common...that's how these projects get done."

He said it was much the same for Lucas Oil Stadium and the Convention Center expansion, but Democratic councilor Zach Adamson isn't buying - not yet.

"When we first found there was a contract for consulting fees to the tune of $700,000, everyone was shocked and it's even more shocking that wasn't the largest, that was the smallest," Adamson said.

He says it's not about the justice center itself, "because I think it has a lot of merit. I'm curious why it requires so many consultants."

And he questions why HOK is providing services that a project developer would seem to be responsible for.

"It's a different model because we don't want to raise taxes to do it...so we've found a way to get it done," Ballard said.

He said the model is different because the city won't own the center. It will lease it from the company that builds it to city specs.

As for the $10 million in contracts?

The mayor said, "it should be reimbursed (by the developer.) It's just part of the contracts as they go forward."

In response, Adamson said, "Is it likely? No, it's not likely. It is possible, but what usually happens is they just increase the amount we borrow, which we end up having to pay back."

Mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter said not all contracts need to be paid immediately. He said some contracts are being phased in.

He also said the controller has "the ability to shift funds around or seek appropriations if necessary, so there are a lot of tools we can use."

Lotter added he was "a little shocked Democrats were so surprised" as they were told the city would be "incurring costs up front" for the project.

Three bidders are vying for the project. Lotter said the mayor's office hopes to choose the developer and have a plan before the council early next year, so the project can begin in 2015.

Read the contracts

KPMG contract
HOK contract
Bose contract

Bingham contract