New plan for Market Square Arena site heads for council vote

The plans include development for the north lot.
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After months of debate, developers are ready to move forward on an $81 million project that will change the city's skyline. It all hinges on an Indianapolis City-County Council vote Monday night.

Last July, Indianapolis-based Flaherty and Collins won the bid to redevelop the old Market Square Arena site at the northeast corner of Market and Alabama Streets. Their plans call for a 28-story residential tower with 40,000-square-foot grocery, 2,500-square-foot retail space and 525-space parking garage.

But developers also said their project required some financial help from the city. Under the agreement, which needs council approval, the mayor's office agreed to give Flaherty and Collins the land, appraised at $5.6 million, and to cover a $17.8 million loan to be paid back over 25 years.

During council committee hearings, some councilors objected to the subsidy, while others wanted assurance that more than 25 percent of the employees hired to build the tower would be Marion County residents.

The plan passed out of the Metropolitan and Economic Development committee on a 6-2 vote. It now goes to the full council.

Council president Maggie Lewis predicted it would pass Monday, as did minority leader Michael McQuillen.

"I have every reason to believe it will pass with bipartisan support," McQuillen said. "The concerns most (councilors) had were addressed."

Jim Crossin, Vice President of Development with Flaherty and Collins, said assuming they get the go-ahead, construction will begin in June and take just over two years to complete.

He said the 300 units would range from studio to two-bedrooms, starting at $1,300/month.

Crossin said they had signed on with a well-known, upscale grocery which would be located at the southwest corner of the site. He said they would announce the chain in the next few weeks.

The city has been trying to redevelop the site ever since Market Square Arena was demolished in 2001 and turned into two parking lots.

This project involves the north lot. Other developers have expressed interest in the south lot, but the city has yet to make a decision on what should go there.

The project is part of the residential building boom taking place downtown.

Aubrey Siehl, who works at the nearby Indy Bike Hub for Bicycle Garage Indy, expects it to bring a lot of business to the area.

"It's going to explode," he said. "You can't put 500 people within a quarter mile of you and not get more business."