IndyGo seeking eminent domain against unhappy property owners

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A battle between IndyGo and a group of property owners along the proposed Red Line route is now heading to court. Last month, the agency filed lawsuits against nine property owners in order to gain control over portions of properties for proposed construction.

IndyGo had offered to pay the property owners, whose properties mostly reside on College Avenue between Kessler and 38th Street, for the temporary or permanent use of portions of their land. The nine owners IndyGo filed suits against are holdouts. Now, the agency is looking to exercise eminent domain to gain control.

The proposed Red Line route would run 13 miles from East 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis on the south side.

A copy of a complaint filed by IndyGo with the Marion Superior Court against Platinum Financial Trust, LLC states:

“In order to improve the public transit system in Marion County, Indiana, Plaintiff must appropriate a temporary right of way to a portion of the real estate owned by Defendant”

Platinum Financial Trust, LLC is a mortgage company. The portion of land Indygo wants to gain access to is part of a lot at Billie Milam Used Cars. Owner Michael Milam says if IndyGo gains control over that land it would be a death knell for his business.

“There’s been a Milam on this corner since back in the 60s. It would kill my business and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Gilam said.

In their complaint, IndyGo claims they offered more than $17,000 for the portion of land they want to use. However, Gilam maintains the offer wasn’t enough considering the toll it would take on his business.

A spokesperson for IndyGo declined to speak on camera, but this statement was issued Monday afternoon:

“IndyGo began public engagement in 2014 to shape Red Line designs with the objective of minimizing impacts to property owners, business, and residents. As of today, IndyGo has settled with 16 property owners. This process is designed to ensure public projects compensate property owner’s fair value for land.”

Other property owners which IndyGo has filed suit against also include the owners of Moe and Johnny’s, The Wine Shop, and the Jazz Kitchen.