Mayor announces plans for new criminal justice center

Mayor Joe Hogsett, D-Indianapolis, presented his Criminal Justice Reform plan - including plans for a new jail - on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016 (WTHR photo)
New criminal justice center confirmed (Tuesday noon update)
Mayor selects site for criminal justice center (Tuesday AM)
Justice center plan
Justice center plan
Justice center 6pm
Justice center
Justice center financing

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It's official. The former Citizen's Energy Coke Plant on the city's east side will be the site of the new criminal justice center.

City Beat Reporter Mary Milz broke the story Monday, but the mayor's office didn't officially confirm the news until Tuesday morning's announcement in front of dozens of onlookers at the site along E. Prospect St.

"We considered many potential locations that met the relevant criteria: something centrally located, something large enough to encompass the scope of our reforms and something the community supports," Mayor Joe Hogsett told those gathered. "The former Citizens Coke Plant plant meets each of those criteria."

The complex will include a new jail, the sheriff's prosecutors and public defender's offices, medical facilities to treat mental health issues and possibly a courthouse.

The project is expected to cost between $500-$600 million. The task force assigned with choosing the location is expected to announce cost estimates by Feb. 28. Marion Circuit and Superior Court judges have until early May to decide whether they want courts moved to the new facility.

The task force began with an initial list of 12 properties. The two other finalists included the former RCA plant at 3324 E. Michigan St. - where demolition of the remaining buildings began last week - and property the Indianapolis International Airport owns off W. Washington St.

Unlike the former RCA plant site, the area around the old Coke Plant is mostly industrial, providing a buffer for neighbors.

Amber Broughton, chair of Twin Aire Neighborhood Association, said most people were glad to see something finally going in the site and had no problem with it being a jail.

"It seems like when a jail is put in to the area that it doesn't necessarily bring crime to the neighborhood surrounding it and with the increase in police presence that we are going to see in the area, I would think that it will maybe even deter crime," Broughton said.

Others expressed hope the justice center would spur further development in the area.

"I think it'll bring a lot of resources and more businesses into the area, that we will have more restaurants coming into the area and some growth. Usually everything goes towards Fountain Square. It's time to move something this way for the residents in the Twin Aire area," Rachel Cooper, president of Southeast Community Organization said.

Mary Milz will have more on this story tonight on Eyewitness News at 5:00 and 6:00.