Plans to develop old GM site get boost

The old General Motors stamping plant lies vacant (WTHR file photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Plans to develop the old GM stamping plant on the southwest side of the city are getting a boost.

Monday night, the City-County Council approved plans to include the 102-acre site in the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The move allows property tax dollars captured in the downtown TIF district to be used for infrastructure improvements in the area. That could include paying for further environmental clean-up of the site or adding streets and sidewalks.

The site had been chosen for the city's new criminal justice center under the Ballard administration, but the plan ultimately failed to win approval.

Racer Trust, which oversees the property, has been working with the city to identify a new use. Neighbors are also eager to see the large, fenced-off parcel re-developed.

Joan Johnson, who's lived in the "Valley" neighborhood for 60 years, said, "I'm very glad the jail and amphitheater did not go in there. That's something we don't need here."

What Johnson said her neighborhood does need is new housing, retail and jobs. And, she says, the site of the old GM stamping plant is the perfect place for it.

"It's a good place for development to be and can be something for everyone," she said.

Jay Napolean, who leads the neighborhood association with his wife, agrees the site is "ripe for development...and I believe the TIF district could lead to something that's beneficial and benefits our entire neighborhood. We realize if it's something positive that ultimately develops here, we are at ground zero for that."

Napolean also believes "this TIF could set in motion events that could really be transformational for the entire city."

That's because of the site's proximity to downtown and the White River, which he views as an underutilized asset.

"We should no longer look at the White River as a roadblock, detriment and dumping ground, but as a gateway from the near west side to the heart of downtown," he said.

Like Napolean and other residents, city officials see the site as ideal for mixed-use development, which could include housing, retail, restaurants, office and commercial space and green space.

A spokesperson for Racer Trust said they plan to begin reaching out to potential developers after the first of the year. While there's no timeline on when a decision might be made, he said expansion of the TIF district should make the property more attractive to developers.