Pan Am Plaza renovations on hold

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Renovation of one of the city's best-known locations is on hold with no word on when work might resume.

Kite Realty, which now owns Pan Am Plaza, began an overhaul of the site last spring. Plans were to restore it as public gathering place until Kite pursued a mix-used development down the road.

The city built Pan Am Plaza for the Pan Am Games in 1987, but in recent years it fell into terrible disrepair with the bricks and concrete crumbling and giving way.

In May, crews began demolition, taking out the bricks, fountains and flagpoles so the plaza could be redone with new pavers and waterproofed.

For years, water has leaked into the underground garage and offices of the adjacent Indiana World Skating Academy. As Pam Robinson pointed out last spring, it's so bad, "when it rains outside, we know because it rains inside. We spend a lot of time scrambling around with wastebaskets trying to catch the water and then emptying them."

Robinson was looking forward to September when the repairs were scheduled to be done, but six months later, the water damage is getting worse.

While crews did finish a small area of the plaza just in time for the 25th anniversary of the Pan Am games in late August, people who work nearby say all activity came to a halt soon after.

"I haven't noticed them working on it at all," said one man.

Another said, "I think this looks pretty trashed out. In fact, I was just wondering what in the world is all that stuff when I walked up here."

According to a spokesperson for the city's Department of Code Enforcement (DCE), work at the site stopped after crews discovered damage to the top deck of the garage - cracks and even holes in the ceiling, as well as falling debris. Most of the deck was closed off to parking.

It was just a year ago when DCE ordered portions of the garage and plaza closed because of structural issues, concerns that took on added urgency with the Super Bowl approaching.

The owner of the garage had the repairs done with the facility soon reopening. While a DCE inspector told Eyewitness News this time around, the garage was "structurally sound," there's still no word when the problems will be fixed or the plaza finished.

Kite Realty never returned calls or emails asking for information on the extent of the problems or when work would resume.

Robinson said she was eager for answers.

"We expect this to be our banner year," she said. She said the two rinks draw about 200,000 people a year, but they expect even more this year.

That's in large part because the Pepsi Coliseum at Indiana State Fairgrounds (home to another indoor rink) is closed for renovation. Besides seeing more skaters, the Indiana Ice will also play 10-12 games at the downtown rink.

Because of the construction and barricades it's still tough getting to the rinks and as Robinson noted, the water problems in the office and locker room have grown worse.

"The water can penetrate even more than it has in the past, so for our staff and customers it's become even more challenging," she said.

Several people told Eyewitness News the problems at the plaza are further complicated by the different interests involved. While Kite owns the plaza and everything above ground, another company owns the three-level underground garage.

Part of the issue is who's responsible for the damage at the top of the upper deck and who pays to repair it.