Meetings scheduled to get public input on locations for new criminal justice center


The first of three public meetings will be held Tuesday night to talk about the two proposed locations for a new Criminal Justice Center in Indianapolis.

City leaders seem to have the locations narrowed down to the old GM Stamping Plant on Washington Street and the old Indianapolis International Airport.

Tuesday's meeting will focus providing answers to neighbors around the Stamping Plant. It will be held at the Mary Rigg Center at 1920 W Morris Street. It will start at 5 this evening. There will be a meeting Wednesday night focused on the Airport site. And then there will be a public hearing in council chambers on march 24th.

A study released last week by the mayor's office recommends the old GM Stamping Plant as the preferred site for the new criminal justice center.

But Deputy Director of Economic Development Adam Collins says before making a final decision, the city will meet with stakeholders, which includes judges, attorneys, law enforcement officials and residents of the neighborhood around the plant.

Land owned by Indianapolis International Airport had been mentioned as a possible site, but has drawn opposition from many in the legal community who called it too far from downtown and too inaccessible.

Collins said the mayor's office asked HOK, an architectural and design firm, to do a study comparing the two sites.

He said the GM plant had "more advantages and fewer disadvantages" than the airport site, noting it would cost about ten percent less to develop it.

That's because of the built-in infrastructure, the site geography, the surface parking and the presence of industrial-size utilities. The study also showed it could generate more revenue through commercial opportunities and parking.

At the Monday night council meeting, Council minority leader, Michael McQuillen said "I think it comes down to which would have the best public accessability to get to. Thin think a lot of good things are being said about the Washington street GM plant. It's a little closer than the airport. My understanding is when the RFQs go out, we'll see what kinds of bids we get".

Despite being more accessible  the GM site is on the border of an older residential area where many plant employees used to live.

Billy Pittman, who lives several blocks away, said, "I wouldn't want it like that. It's too close to the neighborhood. They're fine downtown, but if one escapes we're all in trouble."

But his neighbor Marianne Mayer said she didn't have a problem with it.

"They have to put it somewhere and if it's a vacant building, put it to use," she said. "If it's a prison and courthouse, there will be enough police and security presence, so it's no big deal."

Council democrat Vop Osili is expressing concern that the GM site is too valuable to be used as a criminal justice center saying, "that's a very valuable site a lot of potential a good amenity for river let's see where that might be proposed and if it will (affect it) negatively."

Collins said the complex would take about 40 acres of the site, leaving the remaining 60 acres for other development.

The city does not own the plant property. It's in the hands of RACER, Trust, which is charged with finding a new use for it. RACER chose four finalists from a list of 12 interested in redeveloping the property. Proposals range from a new concert venue, to mixed use and a soccer stadium. The city does have input and "veto power" on what goes there.

Collins said the expectation is that the old GM site would house "multiple" projects. "We really think it's a win-win for all."

Recently, the city narrowed the list of developers who wanted to build the $400 million facility from five to three. Their proposals were not site specific. Once the city finalizes its decision, those finalists will be asked to submit proposals for that location.

Collins expects a decision on the GM site by late March/early April.