Judge denies city’s request to change venue in ROC lawsuit

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The legal battle over a controversial city-leased property took another twist Thursday with a judge denying a request from city attorneys to move the lawsuit out of Marion County.

Attorneys for Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration had requested a change of venue in the lawsuit involving the Regional Operation Center, ROC. In the five-page ruling, the judge also shot down a motion by city attorneys challenging the investigative powers of the council’s ROC committee.

Last month, attorneys for the city-county council sued Mayor Ballard’s administration, claiming city attorneys failed to turn over records to the council related to the ROC lease agreement. The council committee was formed last fall to investigate the lease agreement between Alex Carroll, who owns the ROC building located in the former Eastgate Mall property, and Mayor Ballard’s administration.

Some city leaders have considered the deal unfavorable because the $18 million lease deal binds the city to pay $57,000 in rent for the first half of the 25-year deal. During the term of the agreement, the rent eventually increases and the city doesn’t own the building. In addition, members of the ROC investigative committee contend that rules that govern how the city enters lease agreements were ignored or misunderstood.

A state police investigation was requested by Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry’s office. At last check, that investigation had not concluded.

The ROC facility, that once served as a public safety hub and provided security during the 2012 Super Bowl, has been closed since September after city inspectors found numerous safety violations. That led to a separate legal battle between Carroll and the city, which ended in December with the city agreeing to pay Carroll to make what it considered to be necessary safety upgrades.

Earlier this week, I-Team 8 learned from Carroll that the safety upgrades, including the addition of a firewall in the basement, had been completed and the city’s homeland security department would move back into the building before this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, according to Al Larsen, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

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