UPDATE: Market Square Arena funding approved by City-County Council
After lengthy debate, the City-County Council voted 18-9 Monday to help finance the Market Square Arena project.
Monday's vote approved $23 million towards developers' $81 million project planned for the northeast corner of Alabama and Market streets. Part of the proposal includes a guarantee that 30-percent of the construction jobs would go to Marion County residents.
The plan calls for a 28-story residential tower with a parking garage, upscale grocery store and retail space. The property is currently a parking lot.
While supporters say it will draw more people downtown, opponents called the financial help "excessive."
"Quite frankly, I think it's very disturbing that we're taking this amount of money and the developer could essentially just turn around and sell it and have these huge profits to pocket...at the taxpayers' expense," said Councilor Angie Mansfield, a democrat.
One of Mansfield's republican counterparts, Councilor Jeff Miller, said, "I do view this as an investment. I viewed CityWay as an investment and that has worked out wonderfully. This is even more going to transform the city."
And republican minority leader, Michael McQuillen said, "For too long we've had a parking lot basically that could be producing revenue and good things for our city, whether it's new housing or retail establishments. I think it was a long road to make sure we had the right combination for the venue, and making sure the contract was laid out properly. I think we're finally there."
Since the project was approved Monday, construction is expected to begin in June and take about two years to complete.
The city's been trying to re-develop the site ever since Market Square was demolished in 2001.