Ballard recommends GM plant site for Marion Co. Justice Complex

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Mayor Greg Ballard says there’s a part of city government that is “completely inadequate.” Thursday afternoon, he revealed his proposal for fixing that problem.

Ballard wants to put a Marion County Justice Complex on part of the land that was once the General Motors Stamping plant.

“We just can’t keep doing what we’re doing,” Ballard told 24-Hour News 8. “We’re pretty lucky right now that nothing has really happened as a result of, shall we say, the  poor logistics of the criminal justice system.”

Right now, many of the agencies are scattered in different buildings around Indianapolis.

The city has considered placing the complex on land near the Indianapolis International Airport. In Thursday’s announcement, Ballard said the old factory site is the best option for accessibility and cost.

For some time, Ballard has said he foresees a public – private partnership for building such a complex.

“With the ability to leverage some things, we think we can now do this,” he said.

He also contends “it would be tax – neutral for people.”

Marc Lotter, Ballard’s Communication Director, described it as a sort of “lease to own” arrangement. The City of Indianapolis would not own the building until the end of the lease.  Until then, the operator of the building would bear the responsibility for maintenance and upgrades on the property. Lotter said, though, the Sheriff would still run the jail and judges would still control their courtrooms. That would not change.

Use of the Stamping Plant site is still just a recommendation from the Mayor.

The site is owned by the RACER Trust, an organization seeking new uses for old GM properties.  So, until a decision is made, the Mayor’s Office said “the City is continuing to participate in meetings and public forums as part of the process to collect feedback from residents and stakeholders who will be affected depending on which location is selected.”

“RACER Trust has been marketing that site for three years, to get something that works,” Ballard told 24-Hour News 8.

The City created the “GM Stamping Plant Reuse Commission” to provide “an appropriate backup plan,” if one were needed.

Lotter said if the Justice Complex is approved for the site, that would not preclude the possibility of other developments elsewhere on the factory land. He said the new complex would take only about 40 acres of the 101 acre lot.  he said other uses would be dictated by the market.

Thursday’s announcement also said the change will “provide economic development opportunities for the core “mile-square” downtown area.”

Those new developments are still several years off.  Lotter said the new Justice Complex would not open before 2018.

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